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Monday, December 22, 2014


It just wouldn’t be the holidays without my annual Christmas visit to the American Swedish Institute.  Located on Park Avenue, it is housed in the former Turnblad home, a beautiful Chateau styled mansion that is a Minneapolis icon.

One of the 11 imported Swedish tile stoves (one of the largest collections in the country)

Tomtes playing in the courtyard.

As many of you already know, the ASI is one of my favorite places in the city, and I attend several events there each year.  The Christmas visit has become a holiday tradition for my friend Cynthia and me, and we rarely miss it.  During the holidays, the mansion is decked out in yards of green garlands and wreaths finished with beautiful red bows to celebrate a “Nordic Christmas.”  In addition to the greens, each of the rooms is decorated to depict Christmas in a different Scandinavian country.  The finished product is spectacular.

Swan Turnblad was the son of a farmer who rose to the status of millionaire through his investments, and Amerikanska Posten, the Swedish language newspaper that he owned.  Eventually he would need a house worthy of his new wealth, and so in 1903 architects Christopher Boehme and Victor Cordella were contracted to design the beautiful French Chateauesque mansion they would later call home.

The two-story entrance hall.

There was entertainment throughout the day.

The Thor fireplace is my favorite . . .

. . . complete with elves . . .

. . . with attitude.

The Turnblads moved into the mansion in 1908 but only lived there for twenty years.  They moved out in 1929 after Christina Turnblad’s death, and the house was donated as a museum to house the newly formed American Swedish Institute, which was established by Turnblad to preserve Swedish customs and culture. 

We were there on Santa Lucia weekend so there were processions and programs.

"Santa Lucia" leads the procession.

The ballroom exhibit included movies . . .

. . .  and photos of past Lucias.

The Winter King?

Just your average gift shop lighting fixture.

Through the foresight of Swan Turnblad this beautiful mansion as been preserved rather than torn down to make way for newer buildings.  While this home is truly a gem, it is at Christmastime that it especially shines.  A “Nordic  Christmas” will be featured at the ASI through January 11, and I encourage you stop by.  It’s a yearly celebration not to be missed.

*** What are some of your favorite local Christmas attractions?

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