Fountainview Mansion, on more than 100 acres near the Chewacla State Park, kicked off its first Season of Celebration last Saturday with its Season Gala Grand Opening Tour.
Guests were greeted by owners Gary and Julie Klarenbeek and were offered warm pineapple cider and holiday refreshments as they toured the extensively decorated home.
Guests also enjoyed the Auburn United Methodist Church hand bell choir, which played throughout the day.
Nativity scenes, poinsettias, lights, garland, ornaments, angels, candles and almost 80 Christmas trees filled each hallway and room.
Several rooms were themed.
One room in particular paid tribute to Auburn with orange and blue lights adorning its garland and tree.
“There’s so much gloom and doom this holiday season, I feel like,” said Gary Klarenbeek. “You watch the news and it’s just gloomy. We wanted to do something to bring some joy to the community.”
Klarenbeek said they have always decorated extensively for Christmas.
However, this year, they decided to open their home to the public this holiday season to allow everyone to enjoy their home as well.
Robin Fowler of Sonshine Cakes made the gingerbread house for the family this year.
The cake was a scale model of the mansion. Fowler said she created it from blueprints of the mansion.
Fowler said it took more than 100 hours to create, but she wanted to do it for them since she creates many cakes for weddings held at the mansion.
Fountainview houses many antiques, including its oldest piece, a French-gothic style mantle from the 1500s.
Angel statues in the garden were hand carved in Italy for the family.
The Klarenbeeks said they love the four seasons and angels, so they had the angels carved with that idea in mind.
Bonnie Nichols, a guest, said she had never been to the mansion before, but after hearing how gorgeous it was, she wanted to come.
“I could live here,” Nichols said.
Klarenbeek said the majority of weddings held there are not for women who live in Auburn, but rather women who were students at Auburn University and desire to have their weddings in their former college town.
“It becomes like a destination wedding almost,” Klarenbeek said.
The mansion already has some weddings scheduled for 2011 and is ideal for such an event because it can serve up to 600 people. The garage was turned into a floral studio as well to allow for on-site flower preparations.
Construction of Fountainview began in 2001 and was intended to be a home for just a single family.
The property was later sold before completion to a developer who sold the land and mansion once again in hopes it would become a luxury inn and events venue.
Other events for the Season of Celebration at the mansion include a Breakfast with St. Nicholas Dec. 5, Holly Jolly Christmas with comedian Jeanne Robertson Dec. 5 and 6, High Tea at Fountainview Dec. 11, Joy of the Season Luncheon Dec. 16 and Holiday Jazz Candlelight Dinner Buffet and Tour Dec. 18.
Reservations are required in advance for all mansion events. More information about the Season of Celebration at Fountainview Mansion can be found online at www.fountainviewmansion.com.