Take a short trek into the holiday season by touring the Best Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood during its annual Journey into Christmas.
This year, volunteer decorators have donned 12 rooms/areas of the house with yuletide décor’ to remind visitors of Aldrich’s short story “Star Across the Tracks.”
According to tour information, the story “reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas and ends the story with, ‘Because there was no room for Him in the inn.’”
This ending line inspired decorators to place more than 20 nativity scenes through the house. Guests were challenged to use a reporting form and indicate the owner of each set in the appropriate blank. Completed forms are put into a drawing. Winner will receive a free copy of Aldrich’s “Journey Into Christmas.”
The tour, of course, starts on the front porch, which was remodeled this summer with a new floor and decorative wall. The renovation was due to generous donations from a Cass County Visitor’s Bureau grant and $15,000 fund-raised by Elmwood-Murdock Future Business Leaders of America.
Dougherty Christmas Tree Farm in Alvo decorated the porch room with a Douglas fir tree.
Next, Aldrich’s sunroom features a tree decorated by Randy Van Dyne in Plattsmouth. Van Dyne has decorated this room for many years. This year she adorned the tree with a light layer of fake snow and delicate origami cranes, symbolizing hope for peace.
Linda Homan of South Bend decorated the living room with items from her nutcracker and sled collections. Guest can’t miss the photos above the fireplace of Aldrich and her husband Charles. The 1879 rosewood square grand piano is also an impressive feature of the room.
The dining room is breathtaking with Kris Shrader and Jo Doyle’s “back to nature” decorations and table settings. The cabinets in the room contain some of Aldrich’s ironstone pieces.
The breakfast area and kitchen feature a burgundy and gold tree decorated with a wine and cheese motif by Terri Heckman of Lincoln. Terri has been noted for her TREEmendous Trees decorating service and recently decorated a tree for the Durham Museum in Omaha.
Elmwood’s Cub Scout Pack 260 adorned the kitchen space with homemade ornaments.
Aldrich did much of her writing at a desk in her study by a window. Kami Voboril and Sue Connour decorated a tree in the study with images of Civil War Veterans and patriotic decorations.
On the upstairs landing are decorations by the Oxbow Quilt group including handmade ornaments demonstrating the members’ needlework skills.
Cass County Creative Cats 4-H Club adorned the Spring Came on Forever room with sweet treats.
The southwest bedroom -- known as the Mother Mason room -- was named after Aldrich’s first novel. The room was the master bedroom for Bess and her husband. Mary Frances Reinke and Jean Reinke incorporated angels and a tree decorated in lavender and silver to ready the room for the tour.
The A Lantern in Her Hand room was decorated by Elmwood-Murdock fourth graders who have been studying the author’s writings. They incorporated carolers on the window sills and handmade ornaments on the tree.
Mary Johnson of Eagle decorated the Rim of the Prairie room once again. Mary used antique toys, quilts and vintage ornaments to take guests back to Aldrich’s early years. The nativity scene she put in the room belonged to Mary’s relatives. A doll in the crib belonged to Mary’s mother.
The upstairs bathroom was also decorated for the tour with a tree done by the Elmwood Christian Church Sunday School Children. They handcrafted wire stars to highlight the “Stars Across the Tracks” theme.
Editor's note: Story was based on information provided in a guide given to guests during the tour.