by Laura Lucas and John Phillips
On Dec. 5, five Chestnut Hill homeowners will open their doors to the public for the 2015 Christmas Holiday House Tour. Every week leading up to the tour, we’ll share some information about these homes as well as some of the traditions used by these families to celebrate the season.
Our second featured home is an impressive 1920’s mansion built on a significant estate with a beautiful front lawn that will have carolers during our tour. The owners of this house are a busy couple who are active with Morris Arboretum. Their holiday style successfully combines the classics with kid-friendly attitude.
Holiday House Tour: A big part of the holidays are decorations. What is your holiday decorating style or philosophy?
Homeowners: We like timeless classics at our house and that includes decorating, cooking, entertaining and fashion.
HHT: Is there a special ornament or decoration that HHT visitors might expect to see? And why it is special?
Homeowners: Mistletoe. Who doesn’t love a kiss!?
HHT: Can one of you share your fondest Christmas or holiday memory from your childhood?
Homeowners (she says): One year, my youngest brother woke up extra early, ran downstairs, and opened up all of his presents. Then he opened up everyone else’s presents. He tried to explain that he did us a favor.
HHT: What traditions do you try to celebrate around the holidays?
Homeowners: We love the Christmas Eve service at St. Martin in the Fields. We also love Christmas cookies — lots of them. We will bake dozens of sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. The children decorate them. The kitchen is a mess. It is fantastic.
HHT: What’s one decorating tip that you would share?
Homeowners: With small children, keep your breakable ornaments in storage, and consider stringing popcorn and cranberries to decorate the tree.
HHT: What’s your favorite holiday song?
Homeowners (she says): “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley. It reminds me of my dad.
HHT: Complete this sentence: We love the holidays because…
Homeowners: We love the shift in energy, the excuse to celebrate with friends and family, the hunt for the perfect tree, the quest for the perfect gift to give, the smell of fires burning, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” mistletoe kisses, the children’s faces on Christmas morning.
HHT: Our favorite Christmas or holiday dessert is …
Homeowners: Eggnog with bourbon. It’s creamy, sweet and full of holiday cheer.
HHT: Our research on your home revealed a wonderful evolution story, do you mind if we share?
In the 1920’s, emerging industries such as automobiles, aviation, film, broadcasting and electronics made overnight millionaires of a new generation of entrepreneurs, and the bankers who financed them. The result was an unprecedented housing boom. To meet this demand, the estate of steel magnate Henry Laughlin was subdivided in 1924 for development and many impressive mansions built in the area during this period.
In 1925, banker W.C. Tuttle purchased a plot of land from the estate and commissioned a stately residence in the popular Colonial Revival style. The firm used was known primarily for designing movie palaces, and the dramatic curved staircase of the entrance hall certainly echoes the glamor of a Hollywood movie set.
In 1935, the Tuttles purchased an additional lot from Laughlin to create the large sweeping and beautifully landscaped front lawn that is the signature of this property today.
To get your ticket for this year’s Chestnut Hill Christmas-Holiday Tour, visit chestnuthill.org or go directly to Ticketleap.com. Tickets are $45 online and for CHCA members; $50 for non-members. All tickets include access to Woodmere Museum and a welcome reception with drinks and goodies. Registration and convenient starting tour trolley stops takes place at Woodmere and Hill Company. Many area businesses and restaurants offer special discounts to tour attendees that make it a fun day on the Hill with friends, family and loved ones. Share your past tour memories on our CHCA Facebook page or #chestnuthillpa.