Yesterday I went out to Kearney Mansion to get a quick tour of the house in its Christmas finery as I will be giving school tours this week and next about Victorian Christmas. I was also given a file of information to incorporate into the tour as it will be so different from the usual script.
My usual school tours focus on M. Theo Kearney and how he developed land in the San Joaquin Valley to grow so many crops but mainly grapes and raisins. Mr. Kearney was known as the “raisin king” in the Fresno area. The mansion is actually the home he had built for his farm superintendent but he did live three years in the home before his sudden death in 1906 while on a ship traveling to Europe to purchase more furnishings for a castle he was building on the grounds. Upon hearing of his death all work on the castle was stopped and the building never completed.
The Christmas tours, however, will only touch on Mr. Kearney’s part in developing the farmland and instead will revolve around the decorations in the house. There are four Christmas trees scattered throughout the house as well as greenery and other decorations. The third graders will tour the home, visit the gift shop and in the carriage house they will make a “cracker” to take home. I am really excited to do the tours as I believe the children will be really excited to see the house all decked out in Christmas splendor.
When I arrived and parked, this tree greeted me, still holding on to its autumn glory:
But as I walked up the drive, towards the house, I could see that Christmas had arrived: