A Castle, a Cooks Tour, and a Community
In 1841, Englishman Thomas Cook introduced his first highly organized, extensive “Cook’s Tours” to the world. They were a hit, particularly among those who wanted to see the best of the best among international icons. That same year, across the Atlantic, Samuel Leeds Allen, the inventor of the Flexible Flyer was born.
Fast forward to 2016 when Samuel and his wife, Sarah’s Briedenhart Castle was selected for Virtua Memorial Auxiliaries’ prestigious, 53rd “Cooks Tour of Moorestown.” Each year, this popular fund-raiser attracts an estimated 2000 visitors as it showcases unique homes and business garbed in their best holiday finery.
“Briedenhart Castle is not only the original home of Lutheran Crossings but a historic landmark on Main St. in Moorestown.” says Beth Gebhart, LSMNJ’s executive director, mission advancement. “We were happy to give our neighbors an opportunity to see it up-close.”
Welcoming the Community
“We decorated five rooms in the Castle,” explains Beth, “each with a different theme,” In the library guests found nativities from around the world, large and small. The wood-paneled dining room was decked out in gold, red, and green with the table set with a variety of holiday china patterns ready for a festive dinner. The music room, decorated by The Lutheran Women’s Auxiliary, featured a children’s theme, with model trains and gifts under three decorated trees along with cookies and milk for Santa. Dedicated to winter sports like sledding and skating, the drawing room also showcased a miniature Victorian village. Visitors found light refreshments in the sunroom which seemed winter wonderful with its silvery snowflakes and bright candy cane theme. Throughout, LSMNJ programs—such a New Visions Homeless Day Shelter, the Adoption Program, The Children’s Home—were featured in photos and other displays, tying the Christmas spirit of giving and sharing back to the people served and needs addressed throughout the year.
The festive décor also set the stage three days later for the first-ever Christmas in the Castle Craft Fair. “We didn’t take the decorations down with the tour’s end,” reported Beth. “We thought they would certainly put people in the holiday spirit and provide an appropriate background for the holiday craft fair. Sponsored by the Lutheran Women’s Auxiliary, the fair featured wares of more than 50 crafters on display and for sale in the Castle as well as the main building of Lutheran Crossings. The craft fair was planned by the Auxiliary members to raise funds to support their efforts on behalf of the Lutheran Crossings community—such as taking residents on short trips, hosting birthday and holiday parties, providing a hospitality cart with free sundries and snacks.
With the help of these two festive events, 2016 came to an end with a renewed sense of community. The Lutheran Crossings family and residents of the greater Moorestown area came together—celebrating the spirit of giving, establishing new traditions, and building community.