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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: December 6, 2016

Kid Review: Dinah, 9, checks out the decked out Victoria Mansion

The 1858 Portland landmark is decorated for the holidays and open to the public through Jan. 8

Written by: Ray Routhier

The Victoria Mansion right now is so full of eye-popping Christmas decorations, it makes it hard for a person to name a favorite.

Dinah Routhier, our 9-year-old reviewer, couldn’t decide between the 16-foot-high holiday tree decorated with black top hats and white ice skates and the child-sized bedroom that had two mannequins outfitted with skirts resembling Christmas trees.

But she didn’t have to choose, because she spent more than an hour last week gawking at all dozen or so of the mansion’s decorated spaces, from the grand staircase, massive central hall and skylight to the parlor, library, dining room and bedrooms.

Check out the video by Dinah’s sister Sophie about their visit

Victoria Mansion is a Portland landmark, built in 1858 for Ruggles Sylvester Morse, a Maine native who made his fortune in hotels in New Orleans. The massive house on Danforth Street was built in the style of an Italian villa. It’s been decorated and opened to the public at Christmastime for more than 30 years and currently is open with all its holiday finery through Jan. 8.

The house itself is always worth seeing, with its fine woodwork, massive windows and mirrors and period decor. But right now, all the spaces have been decorated by local designers, so you’ll find Christmas trees, sleds, wreaths, presents and even a tiny Christmas village in the rooms.

People pay admission, then stroll from room to room at their leisure. There are docents to answer questions all over the house.

Here is what Dinah (daughter of this reporter) thought of Christmas at Victoria Mansion, in her own words.

What was your favorite thing, or things, at Victoria Mansion?

I liked all the Christmas trees and mistletoe and stuff like that because it gave it a Christmas-y feel. One of my favorite rooms was the green bedroom because it looked like something, you know, I might want to sleep in. On some dummies there were these dresses that had Christmas tree skirts and I loved those. (The skirts were made to resemble decorated evergreens.)

What were some other rooms you liked?

PORTLAND, ME - DECEMBER, 1: The Dining Room in the Victoria Mansion in Portland Thursday, December 1, 2016. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)

The dining room in the Victoria Mansion. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Well, I liked the room on the first floor. I don’t know what it was called (the parlor), but it was decorated all white and it had this huge Christmas tree, and it had a sled with a tiny owl on it. The tree had top hats and ice skates.

Did you learn anything while you were there?

Yes. The people (docents) were nice. I learned that there was this painter dude that painted stuff that was happening right then, so the whole parlor was designed on one of his paintings about people skating, and the guys were in top hats. (Note: The parlor’s decorations were inspired by an 1862 Currier & Ives print titled “Central Park Winter: The Skating Pond.”)

Besides the decorations, what else is there to see at Victoria Mansion?

The gift shop. There was this pair of old-fashioned red gloves. They weren’t antique; they were all new, but they were old-fashioned style. And I really liked them but somebody wouldn’t buy them for me.

What would you tell other kids to look for if they go?

There are little owls put all over the place (as part of the decorations), so be sure not to miss them. They’re like tiny puff balls. (Docent Eunice Wilcox gave Dinah hints as to where the owls were hidden.)

CHRISTMAS AT VICTORIA MANSION

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 8, open Mondays until 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Victoria Mansion, 109 Danforth St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $15, $13.50 for seniors, $5 for children 6 to 17, free for children under 6; $35 family rate for two adults and up to five children
INFO: victoriamansion.org

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