Yuletide Spirit on Elfreth’s Alley

Carolers on Elfreth's Alley

Carolers on Elfreth's Alley, during the annual "Deck the Alley" event.

OLD CITY, Philadelphia — Fresh pine boughs, gingerbread, logs on the fire – and the first snowfall of the year.

This may sound like the book “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” but no! This was the scene at “Deck the Alley” on Elfreth’s Alley, held on December 5th.

“Deck the Alley” is Elfreth’s Alley’s roughly 10th annual self-guided tour of 13 private homes festooned with Christmas and holiday decorations. Elfreth’s Alley bills itself as the oldest continually-inhabited street in the country, dating to 1702. About 200 visitors paid $25 each to tour the colonial-era homes (plus cider and soup from The Clay Studio), while author Trinka Noble read from her children’s book “The Scarlet Stocking Spy.”

Elfreth's Alley Flickr Gallery

Robert and Susan Kettell, two longtime residents, spent countless hours decorating their late-1700s home. The Kettells hosted carolers in the living room, while the dining room warmly glowed with candlelight. In another house, a Christmas tree’s ornaments had been made by the resident’s late Grandmother.

Perhaps the best bit of holiday magic was when Gordon Trotter, a direct descendant of Daniel Trotter, an Elfreth’s Alley tenant in the 1770s, finally walked into his ancestor’s house. After current owner Sheri Watson met him, she said, “It was wonderful meeting someone with the connection to the past.” Trotter added, “I think it’s fantastic that I was able to come back to this house!”

“Deck the Alley” is one of the Alley’s two annual festivals, the other being Fête Day in June.

Note: A version of this article is slated to be published by Elfreth’s Alley.

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