On January 7, 2018, the National Christmas Center of Paradise, Pennsylvania, closed its doors. For over 19 years, this 22,000-square foot beloved tourist destination shared the magic of Christmas, both religious and secular, its memories, its history, and its traditions with thousands of visitors.
Jim Morrison, founder, curator, and historian of the center, along with his business partner, Dave Murtaugh, began a search for someone who could purchase the center’s Christmas collections and keep the spirit of Christmas alive by continuing to share these treasures with others. Their prayers were answered, and the search ended when, in October, 2018, Stone Gables Estate purchased the entire Christmas collection, one of the largest collections of historical Christmas memorabilia in the United States. Morrison, who is referred to as the “Keeper of Christmas,” comes with the collection to Stone Gables Estate. He will continue to play an integral role in the resurrection of the National Christmas Center at Stone Gables Estate.
In early 2019, the Christmas collection was carefully packed, loaded onto numerous tractor trailers, and transported to a climate-controlled area where much of the collection has been and continues to be monitored, cleaned, restored, and put in full working order.
The permanent home of the National Christmas Center will be housed in 40,000 S.F. of the future restored Barns of Belmont. The main 120’ x 60’, four-and-one-half story 1867 Belmont barn and its associated structures, located along Fruitville Pike in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, were threatened by impending development. In 2014, Stone Gables Estate acquired these structures. The buildings were carefully disassembled in 2015, cataloged, and moved into temporary storage. The Barns of Belmont is a multi-year endeavor.
Until its permanent home is ready, visitors can now enjoy seeing a large selection of Christmas memorabilia at the interim National Christmas Center which is housed a short distance from Stone Gables Estate. Seventeen-foot-tall, real-life buildings depict the streets of Columbia, Pennsylvania as they were in the 1950’s. Featured storefronts include a walk-in Woolworth’s Store, a boy’s toy store (with a world-class collection of models, trains, and more), a girl’s toy store (with a world-class collection of dollhouses, dolls, and more), the Sweet Shoppe featuring Klein Chocolates, Miesse Candies, Byer’s Bakery, and much more! Peer in the windows of shops which include: Joe – The Motorist’s Friend, Heinemann’s Men’s Shop, Watt and Shand, Dave Burton’s Barbershop, The Train Store, and more! Old favorites such as Tudor Towne, Santa’s from around the world, nativities, and much more will bring back many nostalgic memories and joys!
Also on display is a world-class builder’s model of the Titanic in the Titanic Museum. The Titanic model is 22 feet long, 9 feet tall, and weighs 5,500 lbs. It has eight miles of fiber optic lighting and was constructed according to the original plans of the original Titanic ship.