High Tea recalls the glamorous 1880s 

by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted courtesy of the Tustin News

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Jeanette Wilcox models the gown she wore as Queen of the Paper Products Carnival as she poses in the front parlor of her parents' home, The Villa.

Have you ever fantasized about living in Tustin in the 1800s? Wondered what life would have been like in those years when people and customs were so very different from the current century?

Have you visualized yourself joining Stella Preble and Jeanette Wilcox for a cup of tea and a chat about the activities of the Ebell Society? Or attending a party at the James Rice home and being entertained by Coralinn Rice, Tustin's Sweet Song Bird, in a duet with Madame Modjeska?

Perhaps your daydream is of being a guest at the candlelight wedding of Martha Snow and Sherman Stevens in the Tustin Presbyterian Church, then crossing Main Street on a red carpet to enter their new home for an elegant reception. Or maybe you have a mental image of the excitement you experienced when you received an invitation to attend the grand opening of the Hotel of Tustin.

Regardless of the direction your fancies take, an opportunity to return to life as it was in the 1880s is being offered to you today. An English High Tea held in the gardens at the Wilcox Manor on Saturday, June 12 at 3 p.m. The event will relive the 1880s and benefit the Tustin Area Historical Society, Tustin Community Foundation, Tustin Area Council for Fine Arts and Tustin Preservation Conservancy.

Once known as The Villa, the charming house at 310 S. Pasadena Ave. was originally part of a hotel. When Charles Wilcox, a prominent horticulturist and business man in Tustin, needed a larger home for his wife and two daughters, he bought an abandoned three story hotel. After having it moved to the Tustin site, he hired builders to remove the third floor and turn the commercial building into a beautiful home for his family.

Frequent guests at the home included members of Tustin's younger set who were friends of the Wilcox girls, as well as Mr. Wilcox's friends and business associates, C. E. Utt, James Irvine, David Hewes, Sherman Stevens and their wives. Property surrounding the house was beautifully landscaped. The planting was enhanced by a pair of camphor trees estimated to be at least 50 feet tall and a lovely sycamore.

The house has experienced many changes over the last 100 years, but the current occupants, Lindburg McPherson, son of a former ambassador who grew up on Ambassador Row in Pasadena, and his partner, Michael Demoratz, have turned the house into a showplace with opulent furnishings. It was recently recognized as a home of historical importance.

The garden also has been restored to its original beauty and is proving to be a popular setting for teas and luncheons. Guests at the tea will be invited to tour the interior of the house in addition to enjoying the festive garden and culinary delights of the tea table.

The cost per person for the tea is $25. Tickets may be obtained from the benefiting organizations. Each group is limited to 50 guests.



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