A historical home in Tahlequah is a throwback to a bygone era of Christmas decor.

The home, built in 1889, decorates in a manner consistent with the Victorian era, Beth Herrington said.

Herrington, who is on the board of the Thompson Home, said the home is decorated with greenery, natural decorations and ornate decor in the classic Christmas style.

Reprints of photographs from the Holiday 2015 issue of Green Country Living are available here.

“It’s beautifully decorated,” Herrington said. “But not with candles; we’re very careful with that.”

Typically, residents of the 18th and 19th centuries would decorate with pine cones, painted nuts and pine trimmed and cut from the woods, Herrington said.

“We don’t do that now,” Herrington said. “Now, we go to the dime store and buy a mess of things to decorate to our taste.”

The Thompson Home is decorated with several Christmas trees.

The main tree is decked with elegant bows and ribbons. Off its limbs hang little gold and red ball ornaments. The balls are surrounded by small gold-colored angels.

Occasionally, a family might budget for some glass German Christmas balls — balls that were fragile, hand-blown, with engraving.

“Manufacturing of Christmas decorative articles hadn’t reached as wide scope we have now,” Herrington said. “The Germans made these lovely balls. But there weren’t a lot of them.”

Crafting Christmas decorations reigned supreme in that era. For the Thompson Home, though, volunteers and board members deck it with high-quality artificial decorations.

For the modern decorations, Ann Lancaster, committee chair for the Thompson House board, said they will string garland along the handrails, decorated with gold ribbon and red bows. The mantels are similarly decorated. 

Annually, the home is opened to vendors and tourists for Thompson House’s Victorian Christmas.

Herrington said vendors set up shop in the different rooms, selling a variety of holiday goods and foods, giving visitors a chance to see the classic home.

“It’s already beautifully decorated,” Herrington said. “But then the vendors bring all of their items — it’s just a fabulous shopping opportunity.”

The annual affair this year is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Dec. 4 through Dec. 6.

The home, which is in the Queen Anne-style of architecture with Gothic carpentry, is furnished with antiquities that would have been used by families of the late 18th century and early 19th century.

Lancaster said decorating the house is a challenge. But with the help of a high school service organization that operates through the Soroptimists, the challenge is completed in only a few hours.

“The S Club girls do our decorating for us,” Lancaster said. “It gets done in about three or four hours. What they don’t finish, board members finish.”

Lancaster said the S Club has been helping for about five years now in the nearly two-decade-old tradition of decorating in a classic style. Usually about 10 girls along with three or four board members knuckle down to get it done.

“They (18th century residents) didn’t have much,” she said. “They’d use real, live greenery that they’d go out and cut.”

Lancaster said they usually didn’t decorate until Christmas. Normally, the Thompson House is decorated the weekend before or after Thanksgiving Day, she said.

“Decorating was pretty minimal in the Victorian era,” Lancaster said.

The Victorian Christmas is the major fundraiser for the Thompson House, helping to keep it up to snuff.

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