Visitors should not be unsettled by the orange construction fencing visible inside the Chief Vann House. The two-story log cabin hosting the Vann kitchen/workhouse exhibit is receiving a full exterior restoration that includes new roofing shingles (cedar shakes), windowsills, faux chinking and log beams to replace rotten ones.

This restoration is organized by the Department of Natural Resources and made possible in part by a generous donation from Friends of the Vann House, an auxiliary of the Whitfield-Murray Historic Society. Construction is being carried out by TCC General Contracting LLC. The cabin will be closed until construction ends, which is hoped to be in January 2021.

During construction, guests can visit the museum, tour the antique log cabins in the 19th century Cherokee farmstead exhibit, take a guided tour of the Vann House and walk the 1-mile nature trail to the historic God’s Acre Moravian Cemetery.

Even though the Vann House is not hosting candlelight tours in 2020, Friends of Vann House volunteers will once again work with staff to decorate the historic plantation home for an early 19th century Christmas celebration. Guests who visit the Vann House in December will see it decorated in its finest yuletide majesty that will surely awaken the holiday spirit in even the grouchiest grinch.

In the year 1800, the Moravian Missionaries were only just setting up the first Christian mission and school to the Cherokee in their newly purchased plantation barely a mile east of the Vann’s Plantation. In the Moravian’s documents read about the first Christmases to be celebrated in the Cherokee nation, including one of the earliest written accounts of a Christmas tree in Georgia.

Since 1978, volunteers and staff have kept the spirit of a simple and heartfelt Moravian Christmas alive with fresh greenery, lit candles, quiet music, advent wreaths, nativity scenes (called a putz for the German word putzen meaning “to decorate”) and written scriptures that were once gifted to the Cherokee students of the missionaries.

The museum’s winter schedule will begin in December and hours of operation will change until spring. From Dec. 3 until March 28, staff will host tours Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last tour starting at 4 p.m. each day. The museum and Vann House will be closed Sunday through Wednesday.

To accommodate social distancing, tours will be held every half hour with a maximum of six people per tour. Call 706-695-2598 for details.

Like on Facebook at Friends of the Chief Vann House for weekly “Today in History” posts and follow on Instagram at Vann_House_Park. Visit online at gastateparks.org/chiefvannhouse.

Admission is $5.50 to $6.50 per person.

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