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December 7, 2010 > A Victorian Christmas

A Victorian Christmas

The Christmas season is in full swing as bells ring, carolers sing and shoppers search for bling. Letters to Santa have been mailed by hopeful children and the old fellow seems to be everywhere at once. But, this is the nature of a guy who can traverse the globe in one night! Among all the festivities, Yule Logs, cookies and Nutcracker performances, a magical location in Fremont becomes even more so

The tranquil 200-acre Ardenwood Historic Farm welcomes visitors all year with strutting peacocks, farm animals, a horse-drawn railroad, blacksmith shop... a working 1890's farm. The centerpiece, Patterson House, former home of George Washington Patterson, his wife Clara, and their sons Henry and William, has been preserved by dedicated docents who add a special touch for Christmas.

Decorating plans, evolving over the past 12 months, become reality as a group of docents, each with a different room assignment, transform the house to reflect a variety of Christmas decorating ideas in a unique setting. Windows glow as Patterson House takes on a festive aura, but the real treat for visitors is when they are guided through the majestic home's rooms and hallways.

Christmas at Patterson House is the result of distinctive and separate efforts. Each docent signs up to decorate a room with their own items, ideas and creativity. Though docents will be dressed in period costume during holiday tours, decorations are not necessarily typical of a Victorian home in the 1890's; a home in that era might have had one tree with candles and a few ornaments.

Patterson House Manager Randy Hees and a "docent book" provide facts and information about each room but docents bring their own perspective to the house. Tours are distinctive too as guides often "tweak" each tour to the interest of the group they lead, focusing on history, furnishings, building materials, etc. While much of the Christmas season is peppered with commercial events, Hees says that at the Patterson House visitors "can come to [experience] Christmas and simply enjoy it."

For those who have been absent from Ardenwood for several years, Patterson House Christmas tours offer a wonderful opportunity to become reacquainted with this 1800s time capsule. And for those who have yet to visit, this Christmas season is a perfect time to begin a relationship with Ardenwood Historic Farm for all seasons of the year.

Elegant Victorian Holiday Evening
Fri, Dec 10
5 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.
Open house with special holiday music
$6/Adults & seniors, $3.50 children (5+yrs)
Discount tickets available at

Patterson House Christmas Tours
Thu - Sun
1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. (also 11 a.m., 12 noon on Sat & Sun )
Sat, Dec 11 & Sun, Dec 12
11 a.m., 12 noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m.
$4/Adults & seniors, $3 Children (3+yrs)
Plus park admission $2 Adults; $1 Children

Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
Reservations and Information:
(510) 796-0663
(510) 796-0199

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