Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Dunsmuir House

Today my sister-in-law, Gail, and I went to the annual Christmas Season Tour of the Dunsmuir House in the Oakland Hills. This is something our family has done every couple of years for a long time but I had never been there with Gail before. We arrived for the first tour at 11:00 and it was so Christmasy and cold and crispy out. The sun was shining and the sky was bright blue but a jacket and scarf felt excellent.

The 40 acre grounds of the mansion are so beautifully kept and there is always excitement in the air at the gates. There is a large pond/small lake on the estate with geese, ducks and even some wild turkeys making themselves at home. There are gazebos and arbors, and benches everywhere, it is a little paradise really. Since the family actually lived in San Francisco, this place was just their summer home and get away spot when stress overtook them. What? Sadly, though the lady of the house only lived a short time after they moved in so she did not have much time to enjoy it.

This is a post card photo. If you had been there today you would have seen lots of wreaths in the windows and beautiful garlands everywhere. This house was built in 1899 by Alexander Dunsmuir as a wedding present for his wife, Josephine. It has 16, 224 sq feet, 37 rooms, 20 bedrooms, 9 and 1/2 baths and 10 fireplaces and had 12 servants on the house staff. Ladies, where did we go wrong~this was the poor girl's wedding present? Hello! You' ll know I am just kidding when you read what Jim did for me while I was off playing!

You cannot take photos inside the house so these two pictures were on greeting cards. They do not do the inside decor justice at all but I just wanted you to be able to get a feel for the inside by looking at them. This house is truly magnificent. A docent once told us that that wood working in the dining room could not be duplicated today as the craft has died away with the times.

Each year different groups of people decorate the mansion. Boy, would I ever love to get in on this project. That would be fantastic. The Christmas tree in the foyer of the home ascends up through the staircase opening and must be 25 feet tall. It was decorated with gigantic red and orange glass glistening ornaments and was absolutely breathtaking. There is a stained glass dome in the cupola just above the tree~beautiful!

This room was far more elegantly decorated this year than this photo depicts

This is a photo of the front porch today. It was not crowded at all~we were happy about that but it is just another indicator of harder times or perhaps people were just doing other Christmas activities~hopefully! We had a similar feeling about the economy though when San Francisco seemed deserted last weekend. But on with the house... The porch wraps all the way around this gorgeous Colonial-Revival home and they had done a beautiful job of making it look festive and oh, so Christmasy. The Santa you see is just under life size.

Here is a photo I took of the back side of the house.
The flowers in the foreground were brilliant.

The grounds are absolutely beautiful and very tranquil.
This little tree is the only one that is
decorated outside. The white cement bench behind it faces
directly toward the front of the house acrossed a small meadow.

The Pathway Leading to the Carriage House

~This is Gail~
We had the perfect day and will make this our new tradition!
After the mansion tour we went to Lafayette
for lunch and some fun holidays shops touring of our own.

The House From the Meadow

Can you just imagine a wedding reception in this meadow? They entertained a lot of friends here and I can just envision a summer game of croquet with all the ladies dressed in their long pastel corseted dresses and big fancy hats and the men in their spiffy jackets and vests and ruffled shirts and top hats ...can't you? In the name of progress we have lost a lot of our style, haven't we?

The stroll we took to the Carriage House
~the peacefulness was wonderful~

The topper to the whole fun day was that Jim was home cleaning up the yards and he also cleaned our carpet in the family room and washed the floors. Hello, I am truly in heaven, I'm sure of it...when did I die?

These are some the things I love doing during the Christmas Holidays. If you read my blog regularly you know that I have been doing this kind of stuff for the past three weekends. But just so you won't think that all I ever do is party...I spend five long days this week decorating our house for Christmas. It was just like moving but not going anywhere. As I was doing it I was thinking I must be totally daft~but when it is done...I love it. And I know that this kind of work is my play actually too! It is totally worth the struggle to get it all done. I just love it when the first string of Christmas lights are plugged in~it is so magical. I have had that same feeling every year since I was a little kid.

I will post a few photos of our house if you want to peek in the window and see what I've been up to all week besides blogging. I am going to have a few luncheons between now and Christmas with a few girlfriends coming over for the fun and then a big family dinner on the Sunday before Christmas. I am excited about that~we love getting together with friends and family over the holidays. I hope you get to do the same. It is awesome! I hope you enjoyed a vicarious trip to the Dunmuir House with us today!


Miss Jen said...

I'm jealous! i did take the kids ice skating yesterday (they had a free day) and it was fun but nothing cool like this! Lowell and I did get to sneak out for a date too but our washer broke so the date was out to the laundromat! It was awesome to get all the laundry done in about 2 hours but still not much of a date...still a break though and that counts right??

How was Gail?

Deanna said...

Bonnie, thank you for taking me on that trip with you and Gail. After feeling so yucky for the past two days I throughly enjoyed the pictures and description of your visit to the Dunsmuir House.

You should really try to be on that decorating group next year. I can only imagine the beautiful ideas you would have for that lovely home. And what a sweetheart Jim is! We are so blessd to have husbands that sometimes take our breaths away with their thoughtfullness.

Have a great week my friend,
Deanna :)

Laura said...

Bon, the house is magnificent. I can't wait to take a peek in your house, Laura

mandy* said...

I've only been to the Dunsmuir house once. It's amazing. Definitely a fun Christmas tradition!!