A Smeltzer Christmas

The servants’ quarters at the Ringland-Smeltzer house were decorated simply, with a string of ornaments draped from the bed and a tiny tree on the nightstand.

But they were still pretty nice, all things considered, said Donna Holst while visiting the house.

“Those rooms are a lot bigger than I thought they would be,” said Holst, who lives in Clare. She reads a lot about history, and expected them to be very sparse.

Guests could visit the servants’ quarters and descend the servants’ staircase into the kitchen for the first time this year during the annual Christmas open house.

The tours were popular inspite of the snow, said Delpha Holtzman, who stood at the entryway in an early 1900s dress to greet the visitors.

“We’ve had a steady stream of people coming through,” said Holtzman, chairperson of the Ann Smeltzer Education Committee. “There have been several people from Humboldt, Rockwell City, Gowrie, Eagle Grove.”

As always, guides in period costume were in each room to help explain more about the house.

Holst has been on the tours many times, but still loves to come back.

“It’s marvelous, the decorations are really beautiful,” she said.

Ann Smeltzer’s bedroom was on display after recent renovations. Guests could also see photos of the ballroom and classroom on the third floor, since tours are not allowed there. The kitchen was also new to many visitors, having been added to the tour only last year.

“I saw the kitchen for the first time,” said Audra Tarbox, of Fort Dodge. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in here. This is my kind of house. It’s very well kept up; my Dad grew up across the street.”

She was there with her parents, Joe and Dawn Tarbox, now of Otho.

“Ann’s bedroom looks really nice,” said Dawn Tarbox. “And the kitchen is really well-done.”

Joe Tarbox said nothing in particular stood out to him; he just likes all of it.

“I just come here to see it,” he said. “It’s very well-done. This house has seen a fair amount of renovation.”

Amy and Josiah Kaufman were visiting the house for the first time, and enjoyed seeing the artwork throughout the home.

“It was amazing,” Amy Kaufman said at the end. “I love all the old furniture, all the detailed work.”

“We love old houses,” Josiah Kaufman said. “Just the craftsmanship.”

Their daughter Allie, 3, said her favorite room was Ann’s.

“The pink room,” she said. “And I liked the toys there too. And all the Christmasey trees and the reindeers.”