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May 27, 2014 > A glimpse of Russia via the Shinn House

A glimpse of Russia via the Shinn House

Submitted By Linda-Robin Craig

Volunteers at the historic Shinn House in Fremont participate four times a year in the tradition of afternoon tea, sometimes referred to as Òlow tea.Ó They normally invite a speaker to share this elegant and delicious repast with them. On Friday, April 11, fellow docent and retired linguist Dr. Marguerite McInnes served as guest speaker, presenting ÒFrom Russia, With Memories.Ó

Recently returned from travels, Dr. McInnes shared a slide show of spectacular beauty, stunning vistas and magnificent architecture, as well as her recollections of the tour. The trip took nearly a month by river ship, which meandered down the entire length of the Volga River, stopping at twelve cities along the way.

The docents and about thirty guests were treated to hot, fragrant, and amazingly soothing dried berry tea purchased in a small town along the Volga and served in delicate china. After dining on a wide variety of finger sandwiches and fruit scones fresh from the oven served with blackberry jam, lemon curd, and clotted cream, the tea finished with fresh strawberries and Russian tea cakes and biscuits. Funds raised by the docentÕs quarterly afternoon teas go entirely toward maintenance and refurbishing of the Shinn House.

After the tea, Al Minard, a Shinn House volunteer who has been conducting tours through the home for more than twenty years, took guests through the historic residence.

Docents enjoy dressing up and guiding students and tourists through the historic residence, as well as taking part in the quarterly teas. Anyone interested in donning period costumes and becoming a docent is welcome to contact Shinn House curator Joan Serafino at (510) 795-0891 for some simple training. The House may also be opened for special occasions such as weddings or group tours (10 people or more). The Shinn House Park and Arboretum may be rented for events held on the grounds by making reservations through Central Park Visitor Service, (510) 790-5541.

Mission Peak Heritage Foundation (http://missionpeakreporter.org) sponsors the Shinn House, and Friends of Heirloom Flowers maintain the many exotic plantings in the park and arboretum. Shinn House is located at 1251 Peralta Boulevard and is open for tours the first Wednesday and third Sunday of each month, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The grounds are open sunrise to sunset every day.

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