Victorian vibes: 1857 Tanner House Museum in Aurora offers free holiday tours

  • The parlor of the Tanner House as decorated in 2018. The house is decorated for the holidays and will be open to the public on Friday evenings and some Sunday afternoons in December.

    The parlor of the Tanner House as decorated in 2018. The house is decorated for the holidays and will be open to the public on Friday evenings and some Sunday afternoons in December. Courtesy of Aurora Historical Society

  • Visitors take selfies in front of the parlor Christmas tree at Tanner House Museum in 2018.

    Visitors take selfies in front of the parlor Christmas tree at Tanner House Museum in 2018. Courtesy of Aurora Historical Society

  • The Tanner House Museum at night in 2020.

    The Tanner House Museum at night in 2020. Courtesy of Aurora Historical Society

 
Submitted by Aurora Historical Society
Updated 12/7/2022 12:54 PM

Holiday open houses at the 1857 Tanner House Museum in Aurora feature eight specially decorated rooms, including an elaborate parlor.

The house will be open 4-7 p.m. the remaining Fridays in December -- Dec. 9, 16, 23 and 30 -- as well as from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 and 18.

 

It is a tradition for the historical society to host guest decorators from the community. According to society President Mary Clark Ormond, this has produced a wide variety of themes and styles over the years.

One of the rooms this year will have a new twist.

"Mr. Tanner's library will have the flavor of a museum display since it is devoted to items from the personal collection of Aurora surveyor Shawn Van Kampen," Ormond said.

Van Kampen has been collecting antique surveying equipment and memorabilia for nearly half a century. William Tanner was a surveyor and surveyed several early subdivisions of land in Aurora.

"This is so interesting because Shawn feels a kinship with pioneer Illinois surveyors like Mr. Tanner and Abraham Lincoln," Ormond added. A notable piece that will be on display, according to Ormond, is a compass thought to be by the hand of Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine, and probably dating to around 1830.

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Other themes in the house this year range from a formal Victorian dinner to a 1960s Christmas with the Rat Pack and friends.

Admission to the house is free, although donations are accepted. It is at 304 Oak Ave., at the corner of Oak Avenue and Cedar Street.

After the holiday events the house will be closed until summer, opening on Memorial Day weekend. For videos of the house in various seasons, visit www.aurorahistory.org/videos.

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