The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, 20 Aviles St., will participate in the 21st Annual St. Augustine Historic Inns Bed & Breakfast Holiday Tour, “The Music of Christmas Dec. 13 from 1 to 5 p.m.
Visitors will be treated to a glimpse of Christmas as it was celebrated in Florida during the 1800s. The property’s new video with a holiday theme has been launched to feature the tagline, “Every Room Has A Story” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=751XwOw3NkU.
According to Julie Vaill Gatlin, the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum’s executive director, guests will take a self-guided tour through the 16-room, two story lifestyle museum which depicts one of the earliest boarding houses in St. Augustine. Each bedroom will display a specific motif to reflect the typical guests such as a Sea Captain, Military Officer, a ‘frail’ lady, and a family traveling with children, to name a few. In addition, there are also public rooms, private quarters, and a detached kitchen on exhibit.
Stationed throughout the house will be volunteers to provide descriptions and tours including members of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Florida (NSCDA-FL) and The Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, Inc. Girl Scouts will be dressed in period clothing while providing visitors with a brief insight into what is was like to be a tourist in the mid-1800s. Tour guests will immediately notice the absence of the familiar Christmas tree – which was not popular in America until later in U.S. history. Instead, the doorways, mantels and tables at the property will be decorated with the natural flora found in St. Augustine when the Ximenez-Fatio House was a thriving, fine boarding house. Bowls of fresh oranges, pomegranates, and pineapples, mantles displaying magnolia branches, Spanish moss, hollies, and sea shells will be creatively arranged during the holidays adding to the festive seasonal look.
Research and preparation provided by NSCDA-FL member volunteers will showcase the house as it would have looked during a mid-1800’s Christmas. The volunteers will spend hours cleaning and polishing brass and silver, washing 40 sets of windows, waxing furniture and blacking iron kitchen tools. The Society’s members from Jacksonville to St. Augustine will collect native greenery including magnolia, long leaf pine, and sand pine along with red cedar, coontie and palmetto palms, Palatka holly, Spanish moss, and ivy, to mention a few.. Winter squash, oranges, pumpkins, pomegranates, red and green cabbage, kale, seashells, pine cones and nuts will also be used as holiday adornments. Bayberry candles will light the rooms to augment the natural light.
The Bed and Breakfast Tour’s charity partner for the 2014 event is Fresh Starts in Culinary Arts. Partial proceeds will go to this program which is operated by First Coast Technical College and includes training and certifications to help participants with jobs in foodservice and the hospitality industry or to continue studies at the school’s culinary arts curriculum.
A free tour shuttle trolley will be provided to tour participants and the trolley will stop at several locations along the tour route, however some walking may be required. Tickets for the tour are $30 per person. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website at http://www.staugustinebandbtour.com/.
The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tours are available from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and closed on Sundays and Mondays. Tours are free for St. Johns County residents. Admission pricing for adults is $7; families $15, and for students, seniors and military $5. Group tours are welcome at $4.50 per 10 or more.