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.
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.
COMMENTS from post originally published on peaceloveandjoyce.typepad.com