Built sometime between 1887 and 1897, The Doctors House is one of only two remaining Queen Anne Victorians in Glendale, California. One hundred years later, Glendale’s citizens saved their beloved historic landmark. And to this day, they decorate it with loving care, every Christmas.
With a desire to re-create an authentic Victorian holiday experience for visitors, Marin and his crew decorated the parlor in grand style. Using the museum’s collection of antique ornaments and garland along with greenery and dried flowers, they dressed the tree in festive attire. In front of the tree are antique dolls and toys that have been donated over the years, placed as they would have been on a Victorian Christmas day. “The dolls were called ‘Sunday dolls’ because the children were only allowed to play with them on Sundays after their chores were done,” Montejano says.
The room’s square rosewood piano is a c. 1877 Steinway. Rare for its shape and style of stool, it was donated to the house. Marin adorned its surface with greenery and antique Christmas cards. Each December during the Christmas tours, the piano is played by one of the docents; school children and regular tour groups are offered an opportunity to play it throughout the year.
Dining in Style
During the holiday season, Victorian families often entertained, and serving large meals was common. Because guests would spend so much time in the dining room, it would be heavily decorated. Following this tradition, Marin and his team created beautiful, realistic displays throughout the room, beginning with the entry. Swaged with greenery, berries, pine cones and gold cord, it sets a festive tone for the space. The mantel was festooned with magnolia branches, red berries, vintage cards and huge sugared pine cones.
“I remember one little girl who toured the house said, ‘Mom, look at that!’ about the pine cones,” Montejano recalls.
Enhancing the holiday spirit is the small tree by the window. “We brought out our goose feather tree and decorated it with antique Victorian miniature ornaments and tree candles, which also are very period-appropriate,” Montejano says. The room’s William Morris rug, c. 1880 Empire sofa and Eastlake dining table and chairs imbue the space with period character.
Behind the Scenes
The remaining rooms in the home were decorated with elegant restraint. In the office, candles, vintage cards and a bit of greenery dress the top of the Wooten desk. The kitchen’s Hoosier cabinet, a common period piece, wears just a hint of holiday splendor.
With its dedicated team of volunteers, the Doctors House continues to share stories of the city’s past with visitors of all ages. As author Luft writes, “To this day, I cannot think of it as a ‘museum,’ but as someone’s home from the past, a moment in time to be cherished and from which we can continually learn.” During the holiday season, it gives us all a rare glimpse into a true Victorian Christmas.
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by Rebecca Ittner
Photography by Mark Tanner