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The Inspiration Home

The sun is shining brilliantly in Seattle today … and it’s cold. Incredibly so in the morning. But oh so delightful. I splurged after school drop off and drove around our hills this morning – it was silvery white and I listened to the tunes that make Christmas so incredibly special – the oldies. Fog lay in the valleys, the rooftops, trees and hillsides were crusted in a 23-degree frosty glaze, and I was singing, “I’ll be home for Christmas,” at the very top of my lungs. Yes … I did get a few looks. Oh well – it’s Christmas! Almost.

Writing “Home for Christmas” has been one of my “joys." If you’ve read it … or any Christmas novel this year, you know what I mean. You love Christmas as much as I do. This season … this time of the year ... is special in so many ways. While anyone would admit to its challenges, there isn’t another grouping of days anywhere on our calendar where the world pauses, reflects, and gathers quite like they do at Christmas.

For me, the season begins with a frenzy of activity and expectations and to-do lists … and yes, lots and lots of dreams. But as the season progresses and we come right down to the days of Christmas, everything, for me, becomes peaceful and pure and good. What’s done is done and what isn’t will remain so. There will be other years to accomplish what wasn’t. It is that time of reflection, of gathering all who mean so much, that truly makes Christmas so incredibly special and worthwhile.

Nothing embodies Christmas quite like … home. And home is what started me on the path of writing, “Home for Christmas.” Unlike most landmarks mentioned in the book, which are real, the inspiration for Savannah Wentworth’s home, as specifically described in the text, comes from several sources. The setting, the views of the city, the attributes are taken from a hand-full of period homes of the era. But of course, as one would expect, there is one that was the catalyst for my Christmas imaginings.

Parker/Fersen Historic Home. Source.
This home, my inspiration, is an historic home located on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, a neighborhood atop a narrow ridge overlooking the city and more specifically in an area within Capitol Hill referred to as “Millionaire’s Row.”

The area has a rich history that I attempted to incorporate, very loosely, into the fabric of the storyline of, “Home for Christmas.” This area was birthed in 1872 when pioneers cleared a wagon road through the forest to a cemetery now named Lake View. It was logged in the 1880’s and in 1901, James Moore, Capitol Hill’s chief developer, gave the hill its name.

Millionaires’ Row was a premier street in Capitol Hill running along Seattle’s 14th Avenue from E. Prospect to about E. Mercer and consists of a grouping of grand scale, early 20th century residences the elite of Seattle built around the turn of the century. The Seattle Times describes this area, “THE FAMILY NAMES associated with palatial residences on Seattle's Millionaire's Row recall the days when lumber, banking, shipbuilding and retail were rapidly turning the city into an up-to-date metropolis.”

1917 Postcard of Millionaires' Row
Strangely, as affluent as the Row was, it merely served as the last leg of the wagon road leading to the
hilltop’s cemetery. In this early photograph of my inspiration house, the wagon ridges are still evident.

Many years ago, I was privileged to attend an engagement party in a specific home located on the corner of E. Prospect and 14th Ave. It’s a gorgeous, 30-room, 7,500 square foot Colonial Revival home my college roommate’s in-laws-to-be had just purchased. It’s called the Parker/Fersen home and has a story so intriguing; one would believe it legend or a fictional masterpiece. For me, though, it is the quintessential, picture-perfect, postcard kind of home to be a featured residence in any story about coming “home” for Christmas. While I’ve taken many fictional liberties and woven other residences of the area into its description, my inspiration was largely this home.

Click here for additional images of the Parker/Fersen home in the fall.

Here is a YouTube video I found featuring some of the homes on Millionaire’s Row on a rare snowy day in Seattle. Enjoy.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving.

Home For Christmas



Read Chapter 1

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