I admit that Chinsegut Manor House and it’s Retreat Center grounds have a real hold on me. There has been a magical draw to this place for me since moving to Brooksville over 10 years ago. Part of it is the beauty of the manor house, which was in a state of disrepair in 2005, but has been restored to its former glory by the Friends of Chinsegut Hill and many civic and private entities.
One of the reasons I am so enamored with this historical place is it’s rich history. Their is a tiny family graveyard about a hundred feet from the manor house with gravestones of the sites residents dating back to the 1800s. I feel them when I visit.
During the Christmas season, the Manor House gets “dressed up.” Trees and garlands are placed thoughout the various rooms to decorate as we expect the Robins’ did during their tenure. I like to imagine what it would be like to approach the enclosed room overlooking the Altar Oak to bring supper from the adjoining kitchen quarters.
There would be dignitaries and guests at the dining table awaiting the wonderful meal on custom china. Perhaps they would have national political figures, famous actors and actresses or local agricultural agents around the holiday table.
As I study the history of the area, it has become known that the relationships that were forged at Chinsegut helped Florida’s Nature Coast residents survive the bust of the phosphate and logging eras as well as the U.S. Depression of the 1930s.
After a meal, the men would retire to the smoking parlor and the women would visit the ladies parlor to enjoy each others’ company. There would certainly be a fire in each fireplace to heat the room and lap robes would be available should the chill require more.
With Margaret Drier Robins and Elizabeth Robins being outspoken champions of equality, I imagine some pretty lively conversations being had in the ladies parlor, which may have been more demure in other residences of the day. Often tea was consumed in the parlor after a meal.
Throughout the Chinsegut Manor House are original furnishing and decor from the Robins. Every visit allows me to discover something new, like this lovely statuette that was on a bureau in one of the upstairs guest rooms.
This adds to the immersion into history that I so enjoy, especially this time of year.
Speaking of discovering history, archaeologists are on-site, looking for more artifacts near the Manor House.
During December, there are three events scheduled for visitors, as well as daily tours on the hour.
Please come out this Saturday, December 3 and enjoy Christmas Stories and Caroling from 5-7 p.m. Local author and storyteller Jerry Cowling will tell Christmas stories on the Manor Porch. Then join Chinsegut staff and volunteers inside the Manor as we go from room to room and carol together.
On Wednesday, December 7, you can visit the dining hall any time between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for a delicious luncheon cooked by Natalie Kahler, the property’s manager and a fantastic chef in her own right, and volunteers. $10 suggested donation includes your choice of two items (soup, salad, quiche), beverage and cookies. Placemats will provide information on Chinsegut Hill owner, Colonel Byrd Pearson. Tours of the Manor House available at the top of each hour for $5.
If bringing a group of 6 or more, please call 352-799-5400 to make the staff aware.
Then on Saturday, December 10, visit Chinsegut with the family for a Candy Making Demonstration and tours of the Manor House. Free tours of Manor House start at 3pm, 4 pm, and 5pm. Demos of Christmas Candy-making in the Dining Hall at 3:30pm, 4:30pm, and 5:30pm. Candy will be made available for purchase.
Chinsegut Hill contributes to the rich and fascinating history of Brooksville. Owners of Chinsegut were soldiers, farmers, and Presidential advisors. The property is located at 22495 Chinsegut Hill Road, Brooksville, Florida 34601, and has cabins for rental, a dining hall on premises and is available for rentals and weddings. If you are coming for a tour outside of event hours, it is always a good idea to call first. The phone number is (352) 799-5400.
It has certainly captured my imagination and I am certain it will capture yours. Get out to the Hill for one of their holiday events.