Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas at Laurel Court

A few years ago, my family and I were invited to a couple of Christmas parties held at my cousin's home in Cincinnati. Each party had an added purpose beyond Christmas (cousin's elopement reception and Uncle's retirement party) but each was scheduled very close to Christmas which meant we were fortunate enough to bask in the Christmas glory of Laurel Court.

This historic mansion on Cincinnati's west side (yes, I said WEST side) was completed in 1907 for paper manufacturer Peter G. Thomson. The inspiration for construction was Marie Antoinette's small chateau Le Petit Trianon at Versailles. Which, as you can imagine, produced a place unlike any other. The Rookwood tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms, gilded music room complete with teardrop chandelier, African rosewood paneled library along with various other details throughout the house remain true to it's gilded age origin. In my old Journeys Past website, I had a page dedicated to this historic gem, but the pictures were from the spring, and I have never shared my photos of what Christmas does to an already magnificent home - I have since put together some of the Christmas photos in a slide show for you at the end of this post.

The illustrious history of this house does not end with the first owner but travels down the Cincinnati timeline through various owners, from the Catholic Church (the Pope came for a visit and slept in the upper left bedroom over the library) to Buddy LaRosa. The last time it sold was in 1999 to my cousin and her husband (Larry and Judy Moyer - nee Williams, from the Pace side of the family). Actually, that is another interesting family memory. When the house went up for auction that year, my Grandmother and aunts stood for hours waiting in line to tour the house before it sold. It was such an amazing and historic landmark - we all knew of its existence but so few had actually been inside. The next day, after the auction, my family read the newspaper and realized it was our own cousin who had bought the place, which put an end to standing in line. From now on, we are welcomed with a hug through the kitchen! Judy's warm hospitality never changed after she bought such a grand house.
Judy and Larry have graciously given the home back to the community by opening it up for community gatherings, tours and weddings. Some events are even free to the public to embellish local traditions. They care for this house as their home, and welcome people with open arms. As a small family plug, Judy and Larry are offering Christmas tours this time of year....but as you can see, the experience is quite amazing.

The parties I remember fondly from just a few years ago created special moments that resonated historically. You knew the memories would last quite vividly and would be shared with future generations. The soft glowing atmosphere and twinkle of lights gave the feeling of being in a timeless place - truly encountering history as an enveloping sensory experience. The interesting thing about these parties is that even though family politics and disagreements were still rampant, the beauty and history of this house hypnotized each attendee into something akin to awed wonder. Which meant, every family member was kind to each other, and everyone walked around with loving, smiling faces.....a true Christmas miracle!

As the history surrounded us, I couldn't help but imagine the other parties, and Christmases past that had graced these rooms over the decades. Laurel Court is a national gem that was placed on the National Register of Historic homes in 1979. If you are ever in the area, and Judy has one of the tour options open, don't miss the opportunity to marvel at this architectural and historical masterpiece.

For more official information about the history of the house as well as tour/event planning information, visit their website: http://www.laurelcourt.com/

Now, for a small glimpse of Christmas at Laurel Court:

Merry Christmas!
CD 12/7/10


Jo said...

What an amazing house. I don't fancy the cleaning duties though :-) Merry Christmas! Jo

Cheri Daniels said...

He he, funny you should mention that! I know that for the first several years, she cleaned that house all by herself....haven't asked about that lately...but the thought makes me very glad for my tiny abode :-) Merry Christmas to you too!

Judy said...

Come visit soon so I can give you another hug at the kitchen door. Love you and your family dearly, your cousin Judy


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