Classic films highlight Sauk County historic mansion open house

December 11, 2017 GMT

Dave SaLoutos spent six weeks putting together custom ornaments for his “White Christmas”-themed tree on display at the Van Orden Mansion.

Based on the 1954 Bing Crosby/Rosemary Clooney film, SaLoutos’ tree and the room that houses it are one of nine others in the Fourth Avenue historic site that have been decorated for the holidays. Hundreds of people flocked to the mansion Saturday to admire the decorations during the Sauk County Historical Society’s annual Edwardian Christmas.

Other Christmas trees focused on the classic 1942 film “Holiday Inn,” but SaLoutos said he wanted to do something a little different while staying consistent with the theme. He decided on “White Christmas,” the Irving Berlin song from “Holiday Inn” that inspired the Crosby/Rosemary Clooney Christmas movie 12 years later.

“It’s one of my favorite movies,” SaLoutos said.

After choosing a theme, SaLoutos went to work searching the internet for Christmas ornaments. He then downloaded screen grabs from the classic film and popped in his own DVD to get a few shots that weren’t online.

“I shrunk them down, ran them off on copy paper, cut them all out by hand and then decoupage onto the ornament,” he said.

While SaLoutos’ decorations appeared to be a hit, visitors also meandered through the mansion to check out the other rooms and Christmas trees. Keeping in step with “Holiday Inn,” they featured holiday themes ranging from Easter to Presidents’ Day.

Sauk County Historical Society Executive Director Paul Wolter said one room in particular stood out to him.

“They’re all special, but I’m a little biased towards George Washington’s room upstairs because my wife put it together,” he said.

Aside from the themed rooms and Christmas trees, Saturday’s open house also featured live music, homemade baked goods and carriage rides. In addition to Saturday’s open house, the mansion was also open Friday night for a wine and appetizer premier. Wolter said both Friday night’s party and Saturday’s open house were a success.

“It grows every year, so it was great,” he said. “The house really glows at night.”

The mansion will also be open from 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Dec. 22 and 23. Wolter said there will be no charge for admission, but donations are welcome.