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Safford House hosts Victorian Christmas three nights


On Wednesday, Bruce Miller was looking dapper playing his role of Anson P.K. Safford, one of the founders of Tarpon Springs.

He greeted guests at the front door wearing a black cutaway coat, striped trousers, a white shirt and ascotlike tie.

Mistletoe hung in the doorway. "It's called a kissing ball," he said.

To the left was an 8-foot Christmas tree adorned with old-fashioned ornaments and candles.

"They won't be lit; it's just to show the tradition. Back then, they would have a bucket of water or sand nearby just in case of a fire," he said.

One can almost smell the plum pudding and hear the laughter of children as you enter the Safford House Museum, a wonderful display of late 19th century Florida vernacular architecture and furnishings, now dressed up for its seventh annual Victorian Christmas.

Normally, the museum is open only Wednesdays and Fridays, but special holiday hours take place tonight through Sunday so visitors can learn what the holidays and life in general were like 100 years ago.

The home was built in 1883 as a one-story, four-gable unpainted dogtrot house. It was constructed of virgin pine from the local sawmill.

Safford was territorial governor of Arizona and moved to Tarpon Springs to help develop the area.

At a little less than 1,000 square feet, the original home was considered too small by Safford and his family so they removed the roof and added the second floor. It was said to have the first flushing toilet in town.

It features a parlor, two offices, a large dining room and wrap-around covered porches on both stories.

Safford's sister, Mary Jane Safford, was the first physician to practice in the area. Both Safford and his sister died in 1891, a week apart. His much younger wife, Soledad, lived until 1931.

In 1975, the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1994, it was acquired by the city of Tarpon Springs and has undergone extensive renovation to bring it back to its former grandeur, circa 1891. Today the city operates it as a museum.

Tickets include live holiday music with period instruments, carolers, refreshments and a visit from Santa, who will have gifts for the little ones.

Not everything is of yesteryear, though.

You can have a free digital picture of your family taken with Santa. It will be sent to you by e-mail. A holiday gift shop will be open, too.

If you go

When: Tonight through Sunday, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: 23 Parkin Court, just off Grand Boulevard in Tarpon Springs.

Tickets: $10 adults; $6 members and children; free for those 3 and under with an adult. Buy tickets at the door, online at, or by phone at (727) 942-5605.

Information: Call (727) 937-1130.

Safford House hosts Victorian Christmas three nights 12/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 9:57pm]
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