Step Into Christmas Past at Reed Family Home

Lewis Reed Family home

Lewis Reed’s craftsman-style home, looking rather solitary on a snowy day. Photo by Lewis Reed.

The following photos from Lewis Reed’s collection are a fabulous glimpse into Christmas inside the Reed family home at 301 North Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It was not a huge house, a modest Sears and Roebuck craftsman-style home built in 1926. Some of my earliest memories are visits to this home as I spent a lot of time there during my childhood.

A lot of people assume that the traditions we follow have looked pretty much the same since their inception but, in most cases, like everything else in life, Christmas has definitely changed over the years.

George Washington snowman

Snow on the ground means it’s time for building a (presidential) snowman. This photo is Lewis Reed and the snowman he built of George Washington.

The trees were big back then and always fresh. They went right to the ceiling and were very wide. Early Christmas trees were generally fastened onto a flat board surrounded with fence-rails, snow villages and carpeted with cotton blankets of snow. Lots of tinsel and strings of popcorn garnish the trees.

vintage Christmas tree

A small snow scene with what appears to be a miniature church is arranged at the foot of the Christmas tree. A popcorn garland adorns the tree. Photo by Lewis Reed

vintage Christmas tree

No room for a star on the top of this tree! And just look at those big Santa and Angel dolls. A miniature church with picket fence is arranged at the base of the tree. Photo by Lewis Reed

Below are photos of Lewis Reed’s snow village set up under the Christmas tree decorated with vintage ornaments, tinsel, and lights. I used to have a ton of fun helping my grandfather set up the miniature landscapes with the varied figures, little houses, and trees at Christmastime each year. It seemed like a holiday village right out of a storybook.

1900s Christmas village

A rustic picket fence is used to set off the village display. Photo by Lewis Reed

The snow villages were set up in Lewis Reed’s basement on top of a big table beneath a small Christmas tree. He made the snow scenes entirely by hand using wire-covered cardboard and balled up paper to make hills and pathways. The little houses and figurines would fit into the landscape with cotton ‘snow’ all around; and lights would be wired underneath. It was just amazing to me.

1900s Christmas village

Little houses, churches, fences, trees, and pathways were added to the scene. Some of the houses have charming light effects in the windows. Photo by Lewis Reed

These Christmas villages were precursors of the Holiday Villages that were made popular by Dept. 56 that you see today.

1900s Christmas village

Old-fashioned lights can be seen on the tree, along with lit windows in the houses. Photo by Lewis Reed

Looking back on these memories now in my adult mind is like watching my favorite Christmas movie. They are memories of my grandparents house at Christmastime, and are ones I will always treasure.

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

4 responses to “Step Into Christmas Past at Reed Family Home”

  1. Jonathan Richards says :

    This holiday post with images of Christmas trees of years long ago is lovely. I am happy you have fond memories of those days. Christmas can harbor both joyful and sad memories as we remember those whom we loved but are now dead. I am glad you have good memories. We need to try to be positive as we move along life’s journey.

    Enjoyed too the image of the 1926 erected Sears & Roebuck craftsman style house in an English Tudor style. My wish for you is for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ahead in 2020. Sincerely, Jonathan Richards in Chesterfield,MO.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Thank you, Jonathan. My best wishes to you and yours for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! ~Jeanne

  2. Bonita Labossiere says :

    Sooooo interesting! The shapes of the Christmas trees during those years seem as though the trees were cut in half…instead of just shortened from the bottom the way they do now. The snow villages were quite elaborate. Merry Christmas Jeanne! ✨ 🎄✨

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hi Bonnie! Those early trees are certainly interesting. Very different than the perfectly shaped trees we have today.

      All the best for and a safe and healthy New Year in 2023!

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