The resurgence of Williamsport’s famed Millionaire’s Row and the inception of Victorian Christmas can be traced back to a pivotal moment at the historic bar of the Peter Herdic House Restaurant on West Fourth Street in March 1998.
Nan Young, Ted Lyon Jr., and Gloria Miele are credited as the visionaries behind Victorian Christmas. Young vividly recalls the humble beginnings of this tradition. “Gloria, Ted, and I were deeply involved in restoring the Historic District. Over a casual conversation and a glass of wine at the bar, we conceived the idea of a candlelight tour. With our own efforts and the help of friends as guides, we organized a few house visits. Then, we introduced a luncheon at Park Place. I remember the first year vividly – a carol sing in the Park Place lawn, followed by the lighting of a tree on Friday evening. It was truly magnificent.”
The momentum grew as more enthusiasts joined the cause. New events were introduced to the tours to sustain public interest, such as a crafts fair at Trinity Episcopal Church’s gothic gymnasium.
Proceeds from Victorian Christmas were directed towards preserving and beautifying Historic Williamsport and Millionaires Row. The organization, with the assistance of Lady Di’s Floral & Garden Art, purchased, hung, and maintained flower baskets.
In the second year of mansion tours, profits were used to commission local florist Diane Franklin for the stunning hanging baskets that now adorn period lampposts during the summer. Young described the outcomes as “changes in the district.”
Efforts by preservationists led to the acquisition of fire-damaged buildings. New residents, such as Carlos and Melinda Saldivia, Tim Levan, and Hank and Mary Collings, moved to Millionaire’s Row, breathing new life into the area.
The Victorian Christmas committee expanded the event, incorporating music, decorations, teas, luncheons, carriage rides, and appearances by Father Christmas in splendid, handcrafted attire.
Wildwood Cemetery finds itself featured on 2023’s tour, included in the loop of churches and chapels. Visitors can visit between 9am and 5pm to visit our chapel, learn about its history, and its place in the lore of Williamsport. Tickets can be purchased for $10.00 here.