Over 1000 people came over three days to the first “Christmas at the Bonine House” December 14,15 and 16. They came from Grand Rapids, MI and Plymouth, IN and all places in between, and they all loved seeing the historic Victorian home with ties to the Underground Railroad (UGRR) – at the corner of M-60 and Penn Road near Vandalia MI – come to life in Christmas finery. It was a beautiful sight in the evening. Traffic came to a halt to view the home all aglow and take pictures.
All furniture and decorations were brought in by the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) Events Committee with community support. There was a lovely Victorian parlor and bedrooms; a floor to ceiling live spruce in a beautifully decorated dining room; a ‘Bethlehem Room’ with a creche and a straw floor; and a warm living room with wicker furniture and tinsel on the tree, one of 19 trees in the home for the event. There was a snowman themed bathroom on the first floor, and a decorated one on the second.
People entered and left through the whimsical kitchen, learned about the history of the house and a bit about the story of the Underground Railroad in Cass County in the URSCC office, then went upstairs to visit more decorated rooms. Many climbed the narrow stairs to the top of the three story tower at the front, where a revolving Christmas tree still remains lit.
Kids and their parents walked through an animated Christmas wonderland room, on their way to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus. There they were treated with cookies, carved toys and activity books to take home.
Kathy Ruple of Vandalia, chair of the event, says that it will be bigger and better next year. “We’re already talking live nativity scene and local church choirs. We’re hoping people will make Christmas at the Bonine House a family tradition. You can see more photos of the open house on our website.”
The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County is a tax exempt organization whose mission it is to tell the story of the UGRR in Cass County, as well as to restore the James E. Bonine House, and Carriage House across the street. For more information, go to www.urscc.org or search on the Bonine House. Tax exempt donations can be made on line, or sent to URSCC, P.O. Box 124, Vandalia, MI 49095.
Source: News release and photos from Underground Railroad Society of Cass County