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December 2, 2009 > Shinn house looks back for a Victorian Christmas

Shinn house looks back for a Victorian Christmas

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By Courtesy of Gerry Mooney

"As you step through the doors, you go to a whole different century," says Joan Serafino, who has been working with the Shinn House's holiday tour for over 30 years. The tour features the historic Fremont Shinn House, beautifully decorated for an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas using garlands, Victorian papers, candles, homemade wreaths, and more to make the Christmas spirit comes alive.

Open-house tours will take place Saturday, December 5, Sunday, December 6 and Friday, December 11. Serafino says, "The tour gives everyone a taste of what Christmas was like during the turn of the century."

After tickets are purchased at the door, costumed docents guide the guests through Shinn House's bedrooms, dining room, archive room, kitchen, and the front parlor. In the parlor, Serafino's personal favorite, guests can view the beautiful Christmas tree and 'smell Christmas,' look out of the large bay window, and have their picture taken on the sofa. During the tour, participants are also provided with complimentary cookies, tea, and hot chocolate.

The historic Shinn house, located at 1251 Peralta Ave. in Fremont, was built in 1856 when the Shinns first moved to Niles from Texas. They grew rare plants and trees on their property, including a Moreton Bay fig tree and a Chinese gingko. The land was given to the city in 1962; the house was neglected until 1972 when the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation restored it.

The Shinn House holiday home tour expects to draw about 100 people a day, not including various school group tours booked for individual tours. Tickets for the event may be purchased at the door during tour hours. Guests may stay for as long as they please to admire the decorations, and Serafino suggests staying at least an hour to soak in the beauty and spirit of all the rooms.

Shinn House Victorian Christmas tours

Saturday, December 5
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, December 6
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, December 11
7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Shinn House
1251 Peralta Ave., Fremont
(510) 795-0891

Adults: $5.50
Children 12 and under: $2.50
Free for children under 5

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