Festive decorating at the Linden Hill mansions

Laura Jane Musser’s bedroom in the Weyerhaeuser mansion is decorated in all white linens with holiday accents.

‘Over the River and through the Woods’ is 2012 theme

By Jennie ZeitlerStaff Writer

More than 300 volunteers have been busy as church mice for weeks preparing the Weyerhaeuser and Musser mansions in Little Falls for the sixth annual “Christmas at the Mansions” at Linden Hill Historical Event Center. The theme this year is “Over the River and through the Woods,” celebrating an old-fashioned Christmas.

“The Weyerhaeuser mansion has been decorated using many Musser family decorations from the Victorian era through the 1950s,” said Linden Hill Office Manager Linda Burggraff.

The original Christmas china place settings and crystal service used nearly 100 years ago adorns the dining room table.

Friends of Linden Hill’s Pat Sharon, chair of the Historic Preservation Committee, said, “Deb Nelson and Pat Schuett have decorated Laura Jane Musser’s bedroom in all white linens.”

In the second floor sleeping porch, Mary Warner and the Morrison County Historical Society focused on a lake theme taken from the Weyerhaeuser property on Lake Alexander.

The kitchen in the Weyerhaeuser mansion basement was remodeled in the 1950s, and has been decked out in bright holiday dishes and linens of that period.

Melissa Peterson of the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site and Marilyn Kurowski decorated the maid’s porch with an authentic touch using paper chains and snowflakes and handmade things that maids would have actually used.

“This is so exciting; it gives the annual event another twist,” Sharon said.

In the basement, the 1950s kitchen is decked out in vintage linens and holiday dishware, completed by Francie West.

The basement community room will be festooned with vintage Christmas cards hanging from ribbons, following a description given by Laura Jane Musser’s last piano student, Birdie Pederson.

The Morrison County Genealogy Society decorated the north porch, also called the music room, in the Weyerhaeuser mansion. Their focus is the historic Musical Art Club, which included Mrs. Sally Musser and Mrs. Maud Weyerhaeuser as members. Names of other members and history of the group will be featured in the room.

Drew Musser’s office in the first floor library of the Weyerhaeuser mansion has its own Christmas tree.

An upstairs sitting room has been filled with German travel memorabilia from the Musser collection, pulled together by Pam and Kara Schilling.

There is a sparkly clothing and jewelry display in one of the bedrooms, inspired by a discovered artifact. “We found a New Year’s Eve party invitation from Mrs. Weyerhaeuser to Mrs. Musser sent sometime after 1920, when the Weyerhaeusers moved to St. Paul,” said Sharon.

The children’s room has been decorated telling the story of all the children of the mansion — Carl and Sarah Maud Weyerhaeuser and Mary, Alice and Laura Jane Musser. Kinbrae Sperstad is a junior member of the group working on that room.

A new gift shop was opened in Mr. Weyerhaeuser’s office this year, but during the Christmas tours will be located in the lodge room in the lowest level of the Musser mansion. Judy Johnson has donated many quilted and other handmade items. There are a number of vintage toys and games.

At the Musser mansion, Grandma Donna Hilmerson will be baking cookies during both Saturdays of the event.

The Linden Hill grounds have been decorated by the Christmas at the Mansions Committee featuring a 22-foot blue spruce tree with a rustic theme.

“Touring the mansions will bring out your holiday spirit with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas,” said Janell Staub, Christmas at the Mansions Committee chair.

The dark green Weyerhaeuser mansion and the white Musser mansion were built the same year by good friends who were managers of the Pine Tree Lumber Company, sons of the company’s founders.

When the Weyerhaeuser family moved from Little Falls to St. Paul in 1920, the home was sold to the Musser family for five cents. Around the time of Drew Musser’s death in 1958, his daughter, Laura Jane Musser, closed up the Musser mansion and moved next door into the Weyerhaeuser mansion, where she remained until her death in 1989.

“We hope volunteers will want to come and be part of Linden Hill. We’re always open to volunteers — anyone who is interested in history or antiques, and not just at Christmas time.  We have 50 collections and we need help; we’re not getting any younger,” Sharon said with a laugh.

This annual fundraiser is sponsored by the Friends of Linden Hill. The self-guided tour will allow people to tour all four floors of both mansions.

Linden Hill is located at 608 Highland Ave. in Little Falls. It will be open beginning Friday and through Dec. 2. Tours run from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. daily. The cost is $10 per adult, $5 for those age 12 – 17 and free for children 11 and younger. No reservations are needed.

For more information call the Friends of Linden Hill at (320) 616-5580.