SOHO Hosts Annual Holiday Open House at the newly decorated Marston House and Gardens

Posted: December 23rd, 2011 | Balboa Park, Featured | No Comments

By Kendra Atleework | SDUN Reporter

Shaded by towering, leafy trees and surrounded by gardens and lawns, the historic Marston House in Balboa Park has been decorated for the holidays.
The 1905 mansion was home to the family of George and Anna Martson, who owned the Martson Department Store in downtown San Diego. Now functioning as a museum and store, the Marston House Museum Shop offers an alternative approach to holiday shopping. Here, visitors can purchase presents for loved ones while supporting Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), a non-profit whose mission is to preserve San Diego history.

On Dec. 10 – 11, the Marston House Museum Shop hosted a holiday celebration and open house dedicated to remembering San Diego’s past. The house was decorated in classic and modern Christmas adornments.

“The decorating of the house is a part of our interpretive programming and fits our educational mission,” said Alana Coons, Education and Communication Director of SOHO. “Showing how upper class San Diegans celebrated the holidays at the turn of the century is a fun way for visitors to learn history and how Christmas has changed so dramatically in just over 100 years.”

The open house drew more than 200 guests, who perused pottery, jewelry, embossed leather journals, Christmas decorations, turn-of-the-century board games, books and more. The shop is located next to the house at 3525 Seventh Ave., and occupies the Marston’s 1905 Hebbard & Gill carriage house, which once housed three of the first automobile models ever made.

“Visitors enjoy learning about
 regional style as well as comparing it to what they knew from their own
family traditions. For example, East Coast versus West Coast [traditions] seems particularly fascinating for guests,” Coons said.

In addition to the shopping event, SOHO hosted a members-only holiday party, which took place on Dec. 11. Docents were stationed throughout to explain the history of the site, and to introduce the décor, which incorporated poinsettias and a modest tree in recreation of an early 20th century Christmas.

Coons said the event was successful. “Sales were brisk, and the tours of the Christmas-at-the-turn-of-the-century-decorated home were sold out all day.” Coons also announced plans to prolong the event. “The third annual Marston House holiday open house was so successful that next year we will extend it for two days.”

Coons further explained SOHO’s future goals. “Our long-term plans are to show Christmas through the decades with
each room decorated from 1900 through the 1950s,” she said, and added they are accepting donations for ornaments and holiday artifacts.

Those interested in viewing the house decked out for the holidays can take a tour until Christmas Day. During the winter, the Marston House museum is open Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more about SOHO or to become a member, visit

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