Highfield Holidays

Doll Collection

Highfield Holidays and the Palmer House Tree

Doll Collection
Doll Collection
Highfield for the Holidays
Highfield for the Holidays

This year’s Holiday exhibition at Highfield Hall features dolls from around the world. Although the dolls are owned by different people, most of them belong to Mary Lou O’Rourke. Ellen McLaughlin a relative, began the collection almost sixty years ago. It represents three generations of collectors. Ellen started the collection when she was a young woman teaching abroad. Throughout her life, as she traveled the world, she added to the collection. She visited over one hundred and twenty countries. The dolls come from every continent and each doll is labeled with the name of its country of origin. I found many of them to be easily identifiable even without the labels. There is an entire Asian doll section and all of the European countries are represented. Much of the clothing is intricately designed. The hairstyles, jewelry, shoes, buttons and fabrics are very detailed and appropriate to each region. As one might expect, there are a variety of dolls that represent each region of the United States.  One of my favorites is an Amish doll without facial features. She is dressed in the classic Amish bonnet and smock. In addition there is a lovely African-American doll with intricately sculpted facial features.

In addition to the doll display there is also an extensive decorative Santa collection. A number of Falmouth residence have combined their collections to create this impressive display. The exhibit combines more than one hundred Santa Claus figures that vary in size, shape and color.

Deirdre's Doll Ornament
Deirdre’s Doll Ornament

It is difficult to believe but this is Highfield Hall’s eighth holiday season. Each year it becomes more extensive and more beautiful. Since the first year Bill Hendel’s extraordinary cheche display has been presented. In addition there is a gift shop filled with hand crafted items. That is where the grandmother in me comes out. There is also a little tea shop where one can stop and enjoy a hot drink and freshly baked pastries.

Each Christmas season at the Palmer House Inn, I unpack our family Christmas treasures. We have dolls and toys that belonged to Bill and me when we were children and of course we have toys that belong to our daughters and grandchildren. There is a spinning top and a jack-in the-box from the 1950’s and Cabbage Patch dolls from the 1980’s. When it was time to distribute the items from my parents house, some of the items that I chose were my grandmother’s cookie cutters. I decided to make tree ornaments out of them. I tied burgundy ribbon around the handles and hang them on the tree. There is one doll that I particularly enjoy finding a special spot. When our youngest daughter, Deirdre was five, I gave this doll to her because she looked so much like her. When I place the doll on the tree each year, the memories of our dear little girl, who has become a wonderful woman, fill my head. Our middle daughter Lauren is a designer and one could see that in her future by looking at the intricate ornaments she created. I think of her making the beautiful cut and folded paper designs as I place them on the tree.  We also still have the first ornament that we gave to our oldest daughter on her first Christmas. These are the reasons that Christmas has always had a special time at our home.

Highfield Hall is located just a short walk from the Palmer House Inn. They have many festive events planned for the holiday season.

Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of our rooms have their own individual charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of holiday adventures on Cape Cod, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.

Cape Portals and Passageways Exhibit

Gypsy's Staircase by Amy Ragus, part of the Portals & Passagways Exhibit at Highfield Hall through September 2014, in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.

The Cape Portals & Passageways Exhibit is an environmental sculpture and art exhibition on display at Highfield Hall and Gardens through September.

Cape portals and passageways exhibit - Gypsy's Staircase
Cape Portals & Passagways Exhibit at Highfield Hall.

The show features the art of twenty-five artists from this region.The installations include a variety of disciplines that include fiber art, landscape design, bronze sculpture, glass blowing, painting and photography. The exhibit is a walking tour that starts inside the mansion and continues outside through the grounds.

Linda Hoffman’s “Tree Om” was the inspiration for the show and can be viewed on the lawn. Alfie Glover’s twelve-foot tall aluminum sculpture, ” The spirits of the Garden” can be seen in the center of the sunken garden in front of Highfield Hall.

One of the most interesting sculptures is the “Fragment House”. It is a small steel framed house and its walls are made of sea glass that is woven with wire.

Celestial Passage Walking Labyrinth:” Spirit, Space and Time” comes next. The creator and installer is Dan DiNardo who is Highfield’s director of facilities. It is located behind the mansion and it is forty feet in diameter and is a meditative walking labyrinth that is based on the geometry of the classic seven-circuit labyrinth and is complete with hewn wood seats placed at the four compass points. The seats were created by tree specialist Matt Inman in collaboration with David Chapman. Inman also created a large-scale arbor of woven sticks.

“Crystal Vision Earth Portal” was created by Cynthia Rose. It is nestled on the grounds on the “Beach Tree Path” and provides a haven for renewal and reflection. The circular rock formation with accents of crystal is designed to promote contemplation and recognition of the earth’s energy that is released through this portal.

Angela Tanner created, “A wind in the Door”. It is designed to be a fairy tale door that announces the presence of things unseen. When the door is open it allows humans and other earthly creatures to pass. When it is closed fairies and spirits and other wind born creatures can move through it. The doors panels tinkle and shimmer as evidence of their presence. The garden gate leads to the “Rhodie Dell”.

Jon Moore, a photographer who created a portal to the past. He applied vintage images of the Beebe family to stones along the path of “Rhodie Dell” for his installation titled “Spirits in the Stones, Past Presence”.

Gypsy's Staircase by Amy Ragus, part of the Portals & Passagways Exhibit at Highfield Hall through September 2014, in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.
Gypsy’s Staircase by Amy Ragus.

Connecting Tanner’s gate and  Moor’s “Past Presence” is the beautiful stone “Gypsy’s Staircase” that was designed by Amy Ragus.

In the “Rhodie Dell”, is  the very lovely, “Water study in Silk and White Pine” by Sarah Peters and “Asylum Grove”  by John Cira.

After the “Rhodie Dell”, viewers enter the “West Garden” where they are told that they  “Only Have to Change Utterly to Enter “. There they walk under Sally Mavor’s “Hither and Yon” sculpture and on to the “Beach Tree Path”. There they see “Whose Woods These Are”, by Andrea Tompson,  “Pan’s Portico” by Ben Silva and “Invasives” by Basia Goszczynska.

This is an enchanting show and one only needs his or her imagination to enjoy it completely.

The Cape Portals and Passageways Exhibit can be found at:

Highfield Hall (5 minute walk from the Palmer House Inn)
56 Highfield Dr, Falmouth, MA 02540
tel. (508) 495-1878


Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own charming retreat before and after the most wonderful day of adventures exploring the portals and passageways of Cape Cod, we recommend the Emily Dickinson roomthe Harriet Beecher Stowe room, or the Theodore Roosevelt room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, cozy fireplaces, and soothing jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.

Highfield Hall’s Holiday Events

Highfield Hall
Highfield Hall
Highfield Hall, Falmouth

Ribbons, greenery and twinkling lights are filling the rooms Highfield Hall as volunteers begin to decorate for the annual “Holiday at Highfield”. The Mansion will glow with festive finery and holiday trees decorated in a variety of holiday themes.

A special addition this year is a display of model train sets for the enjoyment of old and young alike. Other highlights include a collection of international creches. Also there will be an exhibition of affordable small art works by local artists, and the Highfield Gift gallery featuring artisan-made wares. In the Great Hall there will be live music, beverages and holiday sweets.

The season begins with two weekends of holiday activities and performances. The hall will be open to visitors on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 25, 26, and 27, and December 2,3, and 4 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is $5.00 at the door. Special evening hours have been added on Friday, December 2 when the mansion will be open until 7:30 PM with adult refreshments and musical entertainment. A complete schedule of performances may be found at www.highfieldhall.org

The annual holiday Ball benefit is Saturday, December 10, from 7:00 to 11:00 PM.  The annual holiday concert features “A Civil War Christmas,” performed by the Boston Revels Repertory Company on Sunday, December 18.

 Come to Cape Cod for the Holidays, stay at the Palmer House Inn.