THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE Historical Trovillion Home in Herrin

Thatchcot Christmas Card

I was so honored when the Herrin City Library asked if they could use a photo of my watercolor painting of “The Gingerbread House” for their Christmas cards this year.  They are selling the cards as a fundraiser for the library.  You can purchase them at the library or contact them to order cards.

Address: 120 North 13th Street, Herrin, IL 62948
Phone: (618) 942-6109
herrinhistoryroom at


We were so lucky to get to live in this historical home.  It was a magical place to raise our daughters.  Over the years we hosted many weddings in the gardens and other fun celebrations.

By far, my favorite time of the year to live in the Gingerbread House was at Christmas.  It was so much fun to decorate!!!  We had over 100 Nativity scenes from all around the world on display throughout the house and we had Christmas trees in every room. There was always a 6′-7′ tall live tree in the foyer decorated with birds, bird’s nest, pinecones & berries.  There was another 7′-8′ live tree in the living room beside the grand piano, it was always the most elegant of our trees, decorated with a music theme which included brass horns, sheets of music tied with ribbon and Angels.

The trees in the other rooms were artificial.  In the library the tree had paper ornaments & glass ornaments that Johnny’s Grandmother, Maria DeBernardi, had brought with her when she immigrated from Cuggiono, Italy.  It was also filled with peacock feathers!

The kitchen tree had all kinds of food themed & kitchen utensil ornaments, as well as popcorn & cranberry garlands.  It was actually “half” a tree.  I took a full size artificial tree, pushed all of the branches to one side, then wired it to the wall, it was the only way to have room for a tree in the kitchen!  About 10 years after I started doing this we saw “wall-trees” for sale at Dillard’s for hundreds of dollars!  Who knew there were other people that would want one?!?!?  I could have been rich!!!  Ha ha!

One of my favorite trees was in the sunroom.  It was our “Around the World” tree, it had ornaments & flags from all over the world, but the best ornaments were ones from places we had traveled to.  Usually we couldn’t find an ornament from our vacation destination, so we would buy a keychain or a magnet and turn it into an ornament.  We would have such fun remembering our vacations as we looked at this tree!

All together we would have 13 Christmas trees!!!  Each one with it’s own unique theme.

Unfortunately, our beloved home was gutted by fire on Christmas Day 2001.  (Thank God we weren’t at home!!!  I was also so thankful that I hadn’t left any Christmas tree lights on.  I would have been devastated if it had been my fault that we lost everything that we owned!!!)  All these years later and the Gingerbread House still sits empty.

We fought the insurance company for years (long, long sad story) and as of this time they have refused to give us a settlement that is even half of what our contractors said it would take to restore the home.  Of course, 12 years have passed, so the costs would be much higher now than the original estimate.

I keep hoping that some day I will win the lottery so we can restore our home & its gardens to their former glory.  (If you, dear reader, win the next Mega-Millions Lottery, I would be more than glad to accept your kind donation to restore the Gingerbread House!!!)

Currently the Herrin History Room at the Herrin City Library has a display about the home, which was named “Thatchcot” by the original owners, but is more commonly known as “The Gingerbread House”.  They have a fabulous model of the home built by Jake Priddy on display.  (I want it soooo badly.)  They also have several great photos showing the home when the original owners, Hal & Violet Trovillion, lived there, as well as many of the highly collectible books that were published by the Trovillion’s.

Thatchcot Christmas Card back side


COMMENTS from post originally published on

Kellybrewe said…

I miss this house so much! So many childhood memories! Maybe we should start a fundraiser….I would donate!


Joyce Fisher said…

Hi Kelly,

I didn’t know you read your Aunt Joyce-ie’s blog! That makes me so happy. I know, I miss the house so much, too. Especially at Christmas. It’s never been as much fun to decorate for Christmas like it was there!!! I always loved the way the Christmas tree lights sparkled in the stained glass windows!!! Magical. When you win the lottery you can make a nice donation towards restoring the house!!! After all these years I’ve just about given up on ever getting to live there again. It makes me so sad to think like that, so I just have to remind myself how lucky I was to get to live there at all. Can hardly wait to see you at Christmas!!! Love you!

Peace, Love & Joy,

Aunt Joyce


dutchanne said…

growning up in herrin, that house IS an historic site. every summer, we kids rode our bikes down 13th street to go to the pool. on the way back, we would stop to rest on the stone bench on the corner. fond memories.


I think that most of the Herrin population has sat on that bench at some point in their lives!!! Ha ha!!! It drives me crazy how people keep stealing stones from that fence line. There are whole sections that are completely gone along the south side and back in the alley. I can’t believe the nerve of people. The neighbor saw a guy loading up stones in broad daylight and she called the police. They came with sirens blaring & lights flashing so the guy jumped in his truck and drove off. She gave the police the license plate & description. They said they couldn’t do anything because there was no way to PROVE that the stones came from our yard. Unbelievable!!!!

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