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Metroparks Meetup: Decking the halls of the Manor House

All 30,000 square feet of historic Wildwood home decorated for 45 holiday seasons
Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 9:43 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The volunteer decorators at Wildwood Metropark’s Manor House have been hauling out the holly since Halloween was over... and while the usual thousands of guests won’t pass through the halls this season, a virtual tour will provide an up-close look at all 30,000 square feet of this historic home.

Cindy Brewer has volunteered to decorate the Manor House for 24 years now, and brought her friend Meg Buck into the fold a decade ago. Brewer says the all-too-familiar limitations of 2020 can also spur creativity: “People get to see it in a different view this year, so that’ll be interesting... and more people, so that’ll be kind of nice, too. It is very different, just knowing that people won’t get to walk through and see it, it’ll be more on-camera -- but it’s still fun!”

Cindy and Meg were assigned to the gentleman’s study this year, promptly transforming it into a “Wacky Tacky Christmas” room, chock full of ugly sweaters and colorful homemade gifts.

“We’ve done a few more serious ones over the years, like a New Year’s Eve theme -- something a little more elegant,” recalls Buck. “With everything going on in the world, we thought maybe something more whimsical and fun. If you have a hot glue gun and a lot of little decorations, it’s amazing what you can do!”

Buck adds of her longtime friend: “We have such a great working relationship, creative relationship and wonderful friendship, so it means the world to me to be able to work with her again.”

The brainstorming starts well before the first strands of garland go up, and problem-solving is a good skill to have. “Pulling it all together takes time, but it always seems to work out,” Brewer assures. “We’ve had some challenges with our room this year... I had an idea with these balls hanging on the wall, and they all fell so we had to come back and fix them with hot glue.”

The pair has managed to decorate many rooms of the former Stranahan estate, from the portico to the basement -- but Meg has a special connection to this particular room, involving her mother who passed 8 years ago: “I was looking through some of her old things, and I found spark plug earrings and a spark plug necklace -- so I thought ‘Spark plugs? Manor House!’ I thought of the Stranahans right away. My family and I donated them, they’re in that display case over there. There’s a part of my mom in this room too, so it means a great deal to me.”

You can tour every room of the Manor House from the comfort of your own house, as one room per day is highlighted from December 3rd through 13th, with special holiday performances by local musicians. The videos will go live on social media and at MetroparksToledo.com.

The Wildwood centerpiece is also up for USA Today’s “10Best” Historic Holiday Home Tours. The Manor House came in a close second to Graceland in 2019, and you have until December 7th to vote for this year’s winner.

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