With the bulk of American commerce currently focused on Christmas, it’s easy to forget that the holiday used to be much more low-key.
Naper Settlement brought visitors back to early 20th century life with guided tours at the on-site Martin Mitchell Mansion.
The building, originally constructed in 1883, was outfitted with Christmas decorations specific to the turn of the century.
“Back then, it was more of a religious holiday than it is today,” said Justin Stech, one of the Settlement’s museum guides that took visitors through the Mansion. “It was something more family-oriented – it wasn’t all about the gifts.”
Some of the decorations in the Mitchell Mansion would look right at place in a home celebrating Christmas in 2012 – such as the tree with ornaments in the family room.
But other items, such as fishnets strung up on the staircase with flowers interwoven, were more popular in the early 20th century.
The fishnets were a big holiday hit after being featured in digest magazines.
It’s the fourth year that the Settlement has offered the tours.
The Mitchell Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was donated to the City of Naperville in 1936.
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