Sunday, November 24, 2013

A holiday tradition


Eli and I were over to the Brucemore Mansion National Historic Site this evening for their members' holiday open house. The rooms of the 1884 mansion are lavishly decorated, there was music on the Skinner organ (soon to be restored), and there were cookies and punch.. The mansion is about a block from our house, and is a Cedar Rapids landmark. We've gone over there before Christmas most years since moving to Iowa in 1989.

From my journal, 12/17/1991:
About 6, we went over to Brucemore Mansion for their Victorian Christmas. There was a contingent from First Congregational Church singing, after 7. When we got there, we were regaled by some performers from Youtheatre. Between acts, we toured the house and looked at the magnificent decorations, as we do every year. The decorations are pitched at the turn of the century, when the house was in its heyday, and give rise to all sorts of fantasizing. The Brucemore guides are able to answer most questions when curiosity strikes.
From my journal, 12/10/1996:
In the evening, we went to the Christmas open house at Brucemore Mansion. I had Robbie [aged 23 months] all psyched about going to the "Christmas house." We had unusual trouble finding a parking place, but once inside found it not too crowded. At first the Washington High School madrigals performed on the stairs, which was beautiful but made it hard to get upstairs. Later an old man played on their huge organ. We got to all three floors; Robbie was interested but couldn't figure out where the toys were. (Last year the lights sufficed for him, but this year weren't too captivating.) It was frustrating not to be able to touch what was there, but he did get to rock in an antique style wicker rocking chair. And he enjoyed the cookies, wangling two more than the one we'd planned to give him. (For the record, I had 5, Jane had 3.) 
From my journal, 11/20/2011:
We enjoyed a holiday tradition this afternoon, attending a members only open house at Brucemore. We walked over about 4:30 and were there at least half an hour. There were quite a few people there. The house is beautiful, and they seemed to have a few more rooms open on the third floor. There were Christmas trees in all the main rooms, and Christmas music playing on the organ. We walked around all three floors, then had refreshments (baked goods and hot apple cider) on the main floor. The peanut butter (I think) scotchies were incredible. I had two. Jim Kern was there, greeting people in his last month as Brucemore director. On the way home, Robbie imagined running Brucemore as an inn, which led to a proposal for a video game to be called "Inn Tycoon."
(main room, from the invitation postcard)

Brucemore's grounds and their beautiful gardens are open to the public, and it hosts a number of events throughout the year including a midsummer balloon glow, a blues festival, and the opening concert of the symphony orchestra season. This qualifies it as a civic landmark, particularly as it's only about two miles from the center of town. (On the other hand, many of its events through the year are pricey enough to be exclusive.)

(upstairs bedroom)

The house will be open five evenings during December: Thursdays the 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th (6:00-7:00), and Tuesday the 17th (5:00-8:00). Admission is $15 for non-members, $12 for members, and $7 for youth ages 6-18. Regular mansion tours are available during the day March through December, and are $7 for non-members, free for members, and $3 for youth ages 6-18.

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