WHITE OAK — Allow yourself to be transformed more than 250 years back in time to the late 1700s as Harmony Hall Plantation is dressed in its holiday best for a Christmas celebration.
The iconic and historical site will open to the public for the two-event on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Although a flurry of activity will keep the grounds of the Revolutionary War-era plantation home in motion, the star of the celebration will be the family home built by Col. James Richardson, which will be decorated just as it would have been for those 18th century Christmases.
Richardson became interested in the land after he and his brother were shipwrecked off of Cape Hatteras and had to spend several months making repairs in Bladen County before they could return to their home in Stonington, Conn. Col. After receiving a large tract of land their for his service, he built his home in current day White Oak, 12 miles from Elizabethtown and 1 mile from the Cape Fear River.
The building is frame built in a two-story Gabled style with two-story galleries, an unusually tall foundation with ventilation holes that were also used as firing holes to protect the home from Indians, along with exterior stairs leading from the second story to a full attic. The interior is partially paneled with wide pine boards, some with chair-rails and some plastered above a paneled dado. The mantels are modeled after the Adam design.
Shortly after completing the construction, Col. Richardson was captured by the British army during the Revolutionary War and paroled. However, after learning of many British soldiers breaking their parole, he too broke his and re-enlisted in the American Army.
The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
The home also has legend attached to it.
British Gen. Charles Cornwallis allegedly used Harmony Hall as his headquarters for a time during his march to Wilmington and, according to the legend, one night he and his staff were planning their campaign against Gen. Nathaniel Greene in an upstairs bedroom when Mrs. Richardson crept up the exterior stairwell and eavesdropped through a hole in the ceiling, overhearing their plans. After creeping back down, she dispatched the plantation overseer to warn Greene, allowing him to defeat Cornwallis.
The two-day celebration will include plenty of musket and cannon fire; tours of the General Store, schoolhouse, church and plantation home; an on-site working blacksmith; food prepared and sold by scouts from the Dublin Scout Hut; antique doll-making demonstrations; a Civil War encampment; demonstrations on the Inkle Loom; wooden block cooking; live music by Al Rackley with Family Tradition country, gospel and Christmas tunes; a Battle of Harmony Hall re-enactment; and much more.
Volunteers are needed for the weekend. Those interested should contact Field Marshal Bobby Lewis at 910-874-4011.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.