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December 16, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, December 16, 2005

Early Christmas at Rengstorff House Early Christmas at Rengstorff House (December 16, 2005)

By Julia Bernard

Christmas is a few days away for most of us, but those who attended the Dec. 11 soiree at the Rengstorff House were lucky enough to experience the Christmas of many years ago -- specifically, the Victorian era.

The event was organized by the Friends of the Rengstorff House, a nonprofit organization that provides a "continuing base of support" to Mountain View's oldest house. Many guests at the event wore elaborate Victorian costumes and enjoyed home-made food, Christmas caroling, readings and a visit from Father Christmas, who gave away tiny white chocolate replicas of the Rengstorff House.

"We do these events to showcase the house and give people the idea of what was life like back in those times," said Mary Lenitz (who later performed a dramatic reading from "Little House on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder). Indeed, the house displayed many old-fashioned decorations, including hand-made Christmas tree ornaments. "This is what it would be like if the Rengstorff family had a Christmas party," Lenitz said.

The Christmas soiree is one of many nostalgic events Friends of the Rengstorff House put on throughout the year. Last October, they hosted Living History Day -- giving visitors the chance to experience life in the 1800s and early 1900s by washing clothes, churning butter and spinning wool.

"It's a very popular event and kids really love it," said Nina Wood, president of the Friends. Other events include the Spring Tea and Summer Art Festival.

Tours of the house -- led by docents in period costume -- are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The grounds and gardens are open to the public during the same hours. For more information, visit


E-mail Julia Bernard at [email protected]

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