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November 28, 2006 > Niles Home Tours

Niles Home Tours

by Vidya Pradhan

When the last of the glorious autumn leaves fall and your breath comes out in wisps of steam, you know it's that most wonderful time of the year. Before you prepare to haul the Christmas tree out of the attic and untangle that gnarly mess of Yuletide lights, come and be inspired by the efforts of some folks who are very, very serious about the season.

The charming historic neighborhood of Niles opens its heart to visitors once again with two home tours this year. The first one, on December 2, is organized by the Niles Merchants' Association and features 4 homes. Here's a taste of what you might expect to see.

Marie Dear, whose home is featured on this tour, has been collecting vintage and antique Christmas ornaments for over 15 years. Her home has 300- 400 ornaments decorating trees in every room. German music boxes valued in the 1000s of dollars grace nooks and crannies. Her beautiful home even has rooms dedicated to Easter and Halloween. Be sure to check out the tree made of goose feathers.

Tickets for this tour are available at Morning Glory Antiques, Lost in the Attic and S&H Antiques. Luncheon is included in the ticket price of $20 and all proceeds go the 'Operation Restoration' of the Niles Merchants' train car. Maps for the tour will be handed out on and after November 29 at Morning Glory Antiques.

Once you have whet your appetite with this tour, check out the other organized by the Niles Main Street Association on the following weekend, December 9. The tour begins at the Niles Essanay Film Museum located at 37395 Niles Blvd., in Fremont. Covering at least 12 houses, this is a walking/driving tour. Maps will be given out the day of the tour. For those who have made home tours an annual tradition, rest assured, there are several new homes on the tour this year. A reception and holiday entertainment is included at the Essanay Film Museum. Some short films will be available for viewing along with refreshments and a piano performance by Frederick Hodges from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

For those who feel adventurous and wish to do more than the mapped tour, there are some bonus displays.

One of those gems is Ed Frakes' 200 year old Victorian home. Ed is Niles' resident artist, well known for the treasures he sculpts out of junk. His home will feature 200 nativity scenes from all over the world. Visitors can also check out the sculptures of angels in the front yard and saints in the back garden, all of whom have a quaint background story created by Ed's fertile imagination. A small donation is requested from visitors, with all proceeds going to the local St. Vincent de Paul charities. Ed's home will be open to visitors from 11 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10.

This year the Niles Congregational Church at the corner of 3rd Street and H Street will also open its doors to the public on December 9 and 10. Members of the church will display their Nativity scenes with information about their place of origin. Refreshments will be available.

So plan to spend the next couple of weekends in the Niles Historic District being wowed by the hard work and enthusiasm of its residents. Catch the Niles Art Walk from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on December 9 with shops and studios displaying local art. Check out the traditional window displays sure to bring a smile to your face. Best of all, plenty of free parking is available. Make this one holiday tradition you will remember for years to come.

Event Information:

Niles Merchant's Association Home Tours:
Date: December 2
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $20 at Morning Glory Antiques, Lost in the Attic, S& H Antiques (includes lunch).
Maps: Morning Glory Antiques. November 29 and on.
(510) 792-8023

Niles Main Street Association Home Tours:
Date: December 9
Time: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (start at the latest by 3 p.m.)
Tickets: $15 in advance and $20 on the day of tour at Antique Treasures, Keith's collectibles and My Friends and I. Includes refreshments and entertainment at Niles Essenay Film Museum 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Maps: On the day of the tour at participating stores.
(510) 742-9868

Niles Art Walk
Date: December 9
Time: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Maps can be picked up at Corrie Glass 37683 Niles Blvd.
(510) 742-9868

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