Twenty years ago, Bok Tower Gardens was still discovering the possibilities of Pinewood Estate, the 1932 Mediterranean-style mansion on Gardens property, built as a winter retreat by Bethlehem Steel Vice President Charles Austin Buck. After the Gardens purchased the home in 1970, staff and volunteers spent years restoring its architecture, furnishings and gardens. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the home hosted a range of groups and visitors by appointment only. Then in 1994, Pinewood Estate & Gardens was opened to the public for guided tours, and just 571 people visited the home.
The same year, an event called Christmas at Pinewood was created to host a holiday showcase throughout the estate, opening the day after Thanksgiving and closing after the first of the year. Visitors paid for a ticket and entered the mansion to enjoy elegant decorations arranged by selected interior designers.
Over the years, the popularity of the home tour has grown tremendously, as has the importance of the holiday season at Bok Tower Gardens. So much so that in 2008, we officially re-branded our holiday season as Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens. This celebration is more than a month long and focuses on traditional holiday activities for all ages.
Today, the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate is our largest fundraiser of the year, hosting host more than 15,000 visitors annually. Every dollar raised through holiday admission tickets and activities goes right back into the Gardens.
This year, Bok Tower Gardens celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate with 1930s vintage style. The home is being decorated by a range of talented local businesses and designers, community volunteers and partners. This year’s home design isn’t based on a single theme as in the past, but instead is a “Best Christmas Ever” edition featuring select design themes from the past 19 years. Each room will be different, as no theme is being duplicated anywhere in the house.
New this year, we’re introducing a group of patrons called The Amaryllis Club. Inspired by the history and beauty of Pinewood Estate, members of The Amaryllis Club have raised funds to purchase new holiday decorations and are decorating the Living Room as part of this year’s Holiday Home Tour. Their mission is to promote and preserve the heritage and vintage style of this historic home, and to take on other special projects on behalf of the Gardens.