UWF Historic Trust hosts lantern tour of Christmases past

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It might seem like a scene from Christmas past — men and women dressed in Viictorian-era finery making their way through the downtown streets of old Pensacola, guided only by the dim light of lanterns as they go on their merry wassailing way.

You’ll get a chance to experience that old Pensacola during guided holiday home tours this month that will take visitors to three of Pensacola’s most historic homes.

The University of West Florida Historic Trust will host the Christmas-themed lantern tours on Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16.

Tours will depart from the Tivoli High House, 205 E. Zaragoza St., at 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on each of the four remaining tour nights. The tours will be led by living history interpreters dressed in Victorian clothes who will give insight into Christmas customs during the Colonial and Victorian periods.

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“This is the first  year we’ve done this,” said Jeff Nall, UWF Historic Trust senior director. “We think it will be a great experience for people to experience a really unique tour at night. They’ll see the homes decorated for the holidays and get an insight into life in Pensacola during those periods.”

The tours will visit these three homes, each decorated for Christmas:

The Dorr House, 311 S. Adams St.

Built in 1871 by Clara Barkley Dorr, widow of lumber magnate Eben Dorr, the Greek Revival house was home to Dorr and her five children.

Located at its original location facing Seville Square, the house was made using area resources such as yellow pine lumber and brick.

The Dorr House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places 1974. The home’s architect is unknown.

The Lavalle House, 201 E. Church St.

Originally located at 111 W. Government St., the Lavalle House was moved to its present location in the late 1960s.

Built around 1805, the Lavalle House was built during Florida’s second Spanish period by Charles Lavalle and Marianna Bonifay and is an example of French Creole colonial architecture. The home is furnished with local artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries.

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The home was originally intended as a two-unit duplex, but was converted into a single-family home sometime after 1815.

The Lear-Rocheblave House, 214 E. Zaragoza St.

Built around 1889 for John and Kate Lear, the large, two-story home is an example of folk Victorian architecture and was constructed for a large family.

Tugboat captain (and rumored gun smuggler) Benito Rocheblave took ownership of the home around 1900. The home is known for its jagged porches and asymmetrical design.

All three homes on the holiday lantern tour are managed by the UWF Historic Trust, which manages 28 historic properties in downtown Pensacola as well as the Arcadia Mill Archaeological site in Milton.

Troy Moon can be reached at [email protected] and 850-435-8541.

Want to go?

WHAT: UWF Historic Trust Christmas-themed lantern tours 

WHEN: 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16.

WHERE: Tours will depart from the Tivoli High House, 205 E. Zaragoza St, and will visit three historic homes.

TICKETS: Tickets for the remaining nights are $15. Tickets for children younger than 12 years old are $8. Tours last about an hour and participation is limited to 25 people per tour.

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