Catch the Spirit – The Holidays are Coming!

By October 9, 2017Press Releases

Los Altos, CA October 9, 2017 The Los Altos History Museum invites the community to start this year’s holiday season with “Catch the Spirit” on Wednesday, November 15, noon to 4:00pm, with a special event at the J. Gilbert Smith House, located on one of the last active apricot orchards in Santa Clara Valley. Thriving among the buildings of the Los Altos Civic Center, this 1905 shingled farmhouse was built with many Craftsman-style features.

For “Catch the Spirit”, the historic Smith House will be decked-out with holiday decorations reminiscent of the 1930s to complement the home’s period furnishings and rekindle memories of a simpler time. Tasty treats will be served on the spacious wrap-around porch and pianist Carole Cameron will entertain guests with seasonal music from the antique piano in the parlor. Providing festive music at 1:00pm, is Schola Cantorum Silicon Valley, an auditioned 90-voice chorus under the baton of Gregory Wait, Senior Lecturer in the Stanford Music Department and Director of Vocal Studies. Its appearance at the “Catch the Spirit” event is the first in its series of holiday concerts in the area.

An Authors Showcase featuring eight local authors will take place from 1:30-2:30pm in the Museum’s main gallery. Robin Chapman, a Los Altos native, journalist, and author of California Apricots: The Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley will serve as the moderator for the group of eight authors, who will have their books on hand for autograph:

  • Susan Bickford, author of A Short Time to Die (fiction/mystery)
  • Diana Chan, author of Easy’n Healthy Cooking and Animal Kingdom (non-fiction/children’s book)
  • Ryan Dietzen, author of Murder Most Garlic and The Burnt Man (mystery/fiction)
  • Mary Feliz, author of Dead Storage, Scheduled to Death and Address to Die For (fiction/mystery)
  • Anne Heffron, author of You Don’t Look Adopted (memoir)
  • Donald McPhail, author of The Millionaires Cruise: Sailing Toward Black Tuesday  (historical fiction)
  • Frederick “Fritz” Trapnell, author of Harnessing the Sky (non-fiction)
  • Barbara Wilcox, World War I Army Training by San Francisco Bay (The Story of Camp Fremont) (non-fiction)

“This is such a great opportunity for the community to get together and celebrate our local authors and the spirit of giving that marks the holiday season,” observed Dr. Elisabeth Ward, Executive Director of the Los Altos History Museum. “I’m looking forward also to decorating our two holiday trees, including our Golden Star Tree recognizing volunteers from past to present.” In addition, a tree in the Smith House gift area will be decorated with small, embroidered dogs, cats, and birds, dressed for the holidays.

Visitors will be able to enjoy refreshments, live music from Schola Cantorum Silicon Valley and holiday decorations while selecting gifts for family and loved ones at the Museum Store, which will be specially stocked with delightful gifts, holiday décor and community mementos. In addition to the Museum Store, a one-day only, assortment of holiday gifts will be available in the first-floor gallery of the J. Gilbert Smith House. New gift offerings will be Christmas treats for pets, glass ornaments showing San Francisco’s Cable Cars, sailboats under the Golden Gate Bridge, and Coit Tower and the introduction of a 4-coaster set of scenes from Los Altos, featuring photos taken by Vicki Holman.

Guests are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped children’s pajamas, toys or books to fill the donation box for the Community Services Agency (CSA) serving the residents of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. They provide a safety net, so that independence and self-sufficiency can be restored and maintained. Their clients may be a young, working-poor family or an elderly person looking for companionship. “We’re remembering children who need a little extra this year. We especially love that the parents choose the gifts for their kids at CSA, so it’s selected by the family, not as a handout,” observed Vicki Holman, Museum Store Chair.

Catch the Spirit! Shopping, Music, Food and more…

Wednesday, November 15, 2017, Noon to 4:00pm.

  • Admission free
  • Pianist Carole Cameron at 12:30 – 2:00pm
  • Schola Cantorum Silicon Valley performing holiday music at 1:00pm
  • Local Authors Showcase at 1:30pm
  • Holiday gifts and Savory Foods and Desserts
  • Help fill CSA donation box with new, unwrapped children’s pajamas, toys, books
  • Los Altos History Museum: 51 S. San Antonio Rd, (behind the library)

The Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collectionspermanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.

The Museum and J. Gilbert Smith House are open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, go to:, email, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.

Media Contact:

Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10,