Yuletide Yesteryear: St Louis Holiday Homes

Monday December 16, 2013

By Mark

When Dickens wrote of Christmases past he did so based on memories. In St Louis you don’t have to depend on memories alone to revisit Christmases past. All one has to do is visit one of St Louis’ museum homes.

Each year the Eugene Field, Tower Grove and the Campbell Houses are dressed for the holidays, reflecting the time period and personalities of their original residents that made their house a home.

Tower Grove, the country home of Henry Shaw, located within the grounds of the Missouri Botanical Garden, shines a little brighter this holiday season during the Garden’s premiere of Garden Glow. Following the lights of the Garden Glow’s multicolored light displays leads visitors under a canopy of tree lanterns. The Lanterns serve as a transition to Tower Grove House whose windows are candlelit and doorways are garland draped.  Step inside and browse the mansion’s three floors, which are filled with vintage holiday decor before exiting through the kitchen’s backdoor for a stroll through the illuminated Victorian boxwood maze.

Downtown lucky guests can share in a cup of cheer (Virginia Campbell’s Roman Punch) at the Campbell House Museum’s Candlelight Christmas Open House on December 19 form 6-8pm. Campbell House, considered one of the country’s most complete Victorian homes is renowned for its opulent original furnishings, including an extensive collection of china and silver that 19th century President Grant ate from. The Campbell dining room will again be set for the holiday feast and its double parlor is lavishly outfitted in late 19th-century Victorian yuletide décor, While the holiday hustle may prevent you from making the Campbell candlelight tour you can still catch the Campbell House’s decorations that will be on display through January 15.

The next house Santa knows well is The Eugene Field House and St Louis Toy Museum. Located just a few blocks from the Old Courthouse, the 19th century row house was the childhood home to the Children’s Poet Eugene Field, whose father, Roswell,  served as Dred Scott’s attorney in his fight for freedom.  Today the Field House’s lower levels interprets the 1850s lifestyle experienced by the Fields along with preserving Field family artifacts. The top floor houses the impressive collection of toys of the St Louis Toy Museum. Toys on display date from the 1700s to the mid-20th century. And while the toys are a natural draw for visitors to see the holiday highlight of the Field House is its vintage six-foot feather Christmas tree bedecked with rare ornaments such as the imported German glass ornaments popular during the late Victorian period.

Campbell and The Field Houses are open to the public with a modest admission. Tower Grove House is included with the Garden admission. Each house provides a nostalgic look back into St Louis’ Christmases where one can come home to rediscover the past while creating new memories to cherish for Christmases yet to come.

Guest Blogger Suzanne Corbett a freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri contributed this blog.