Make us your home page
Instagram

Tarpon Springs museum offers a look at a Victorian Christmas

TARPON SPRINGS

Thank the Victorians for our modern Christmas traditions like Christmas trees, the singing of carols, family turkey dinners, charity for the poor and Old St. Nick doling out gifts.

Thank the 1883 Safford House Museum for an opportunity to see just what these Christmases of yore were like.

Today and Saturday, all are invited to join Tarpon Springs city founder "Anson P.K. Safford" (portrayed by actor Bruce Miller) as he and his costumed "family members and staff" provide tours of the home all gussied up in holiday style.

Nineteenth century carolers will sing, Safford will read the 1822 poem Twas the Night before Christmas, a Victorian Santa will visit and children can partake in crafts on the wrap-around veranda. Refreshments will be served in the gift shop.

During a preview tour, Miller, in character as Anson, said he is very proud of his home, a prime example of 19th century Florida vernacular architecture. The two-story, tan-colored home boasts a parlor, offices for both Anson and his physician sister, a massive dining room, four bedrooms, three fireplaces and the "first indoor water closet in town."

Lace curtains cover windows made of original wavy glass panes and striking green verandas wrap around both stories.

The 1883 home was originally constructed as a one-story, four-gable, unpainted dogtrot house. It was considered way too small by the former governor of the Arizona Territory who needed room for his sister, third wife Soledad, the children, governess and household help, so a second story was added.

In the 1970s, the home was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It was acquired by the city of Tarpon Springs in 1994 and has been extensively renovated to reflect its 1893 appearance.

It now serves as a museum and is open year-round. The home is chock-full of antiques, ornately carved furniture pieces and finishing touches of period clothing, dishes, toys and medical instruments. In the parlor, a piano (circa 1816) has 66 keys. (Today's standard pianos typically have 88.)

During the tour, Dee O'Brien will appear as Anson's sister, Dr. Mary Jane Safford, known as the "Cairo Angel" of Illinois. She earned the nickname because of her tireless care of the diseased and wounded Union soldiers during the Civil War, O'Brien said.

Accordingly, her office is decorated with Christmas angels.

She became Tarpon Springs' first doctor and the first female physician in Florida.

"I was a great believer in homeopathic medicine," O'Brien, in character, said.

In Anson's office, visitors will notice a picture of Ulysses S. Grant, who is called "a personal friend."

A shotgun rests over the virgin pine fireplace festooned with stockings and red poinsettias.

"It comes in handy for gunfights on Tarpon Avenue," said in-character Miller, who has researched his character extensively. "I use it to protect my family from marauding cowboys and livestock."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com

>>IF YOU GO

Safford House Victorian Christmas

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today; 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: 23 Parkin Court, Tarpon Springs

Tickets: $14; $12 for Tarpon Arts members and students; $6 for children kindergarten through sixth grade. Buy tickets at the door, online at tarponarts.com or by calling (727) 942-5605.

Tarpon Springs museum offers a look at a Victorian Christmas 12/16/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 6:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pain does not exist in the Karate 3 soundtrack ... does it?!?

    Blogs

    Should the Karate Kid series have stopped at the original? Probably, but if we didn't have Karate Kid 3 would will still have the lost song Listen To Her Heart by the Little River Band?

  2. Bar review: The Landing at Jannus in St. Petersburg

    Bars & Spirits

    I've spent many evenings in St. Pete's Jannus Live courtyard, enjoying one of the best open-air venues in the Tampa Bay area. It's where I saw my first concert in Florida: Toadies, on the Rubberneck tour sometime in the mid '90s.

    The drinks at the Landing at Jannus in St. Petersburg are about as cheap as you’ll find at any other regular downtown bar, a nice surprise.
  3. Local craft beer of the week: Two Henrys Belleview-Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat

    Bars & Spirits

    Two Henrys Brewing Company is a unique entity in the Tampa Bay brewing scene, due to both its status as the only brewery in Plant City, as well as its location on a 27-acre working farm, which also includes a winery.

    Photo by Justin Grant
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 26

    Events

    Train: One of the most engaging frontmen in rock, Pat Monahan, brings along O.A.R. and Natasha Bedingfield for their annual trip through Tampa. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $21.50-$191. (813) 740-2446.

    LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 12:  Singer Pat Monahan of Train performs as the band kicks off the Play That Song Tour in support of the album "A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat" at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 12, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) 700034174
  5. Interview: Todd Rundgren comes to St. Petersburg looking to reach a new generation

    Music & Concerts

    They're teaching Todd Rundgren in college now.

    Todd Rundgren will perform at the Mahaffey Theater on May 27. Credit: Lynn Goldsmith