October 28, 2015

Trinkets and Treats at a Victorian House Museum

OK so I really thought I was just going to see one of LA's creepy Victorian houses—one of the ones that haven't yet been relocated to our own orphan home of homes, Heritage Square. I don't even remember how I originally heard about it, but for months, I've had its Halloween haunted house tour on my calendar.

Google Maps Street View

It's a nice Queen Anne Victorian from 1898, a Historic-Cultural Monument declared by the City of Los Angeles in 1987.

It's on an otherwise unremarkable residential block of Bonnie Brae Street near MacArthur Park...

...though one suspects that there were probably more Victorian houses like this in this area some time ago (including nearby Beaudry Avenue).

This Victorian house was built as a single family home, but in the early 1900s, it was also used as a multi-unit boarding house and later as a doctor's office and a maternity hospital.

At a passing glance at the outside, you'd never suspect what oddities can be found inside.

But when you walk through the front door, it becomes very clear that this is no ordinary house museum. In fact, it wasn't even bought to be lived in, but rather to house an ever-growing collection of antiques and vintage holiday decor.

Yes, there are the lace curtains and the etched glass lamps, the gas-electric chandeliers, the organ and the tapestries... well as a severed head... portraits, and a grandfather clock.

Shelves are chock-full of curios... art and other period-appropriate decor nearly cover the pink walls completely.

A visit to the Grier-Musser Museum is really more about the knick-knacks—and seasonally rotating decorations—than about the house itself...

...though it's quite intriguing because the house owner Susan Tejada has actually moved into the house with her husband and son.

Susan is the granddaughter of Anna Grier-Musser, after whom she named the museum when she founded it with her mother (now deceased) and sister (who's no longer involved), both with their own proclivities for collecting.

It's amazing that there's any room for people in the house.

Porcelain dolls and doilies seem to dominate the space.

Even the sinks are occupied by Halloween decorations, both new and old.

Even the shower is a little overcrowded.

Where do the decorations go when Halloween is over? The displays change with the seasons, so there's a rotation of trinkets and tchotchkes and objects d'art that move in and out of storage on a month-to-month basis.

After 30 years of running the museum, Susan has collected a treasure trove that distracts you a bit from the Victorian home's original wood floors, pocket doors, hardware, and moulding. But there are other places you can examine those architectural features. There's no other place that you can see such a menagerie of glass, porcelain, china, papier-mâché, and plastic tucked into every possible corner for display.

"Are you a collector?" Susan asked me as I sipped the red punch she'd ladled into a cup for me.

Boy, I could be, if I let myself.

Because Susan and her family live in the Grier-Musser Museum, call a few days in advance so they can prepare for visitors. If you go once a month for an entire year, you might get the chance to see everything. Then again, who knows how much more stuff will have been collected, once a year has passed?

Related Posts:
Obsessive Collector of Experiences
Photo Essay: Hoppy Holidays from The Bunny Museum
Photo Essay: Wayward Carousel Horses & Other Creatures
Photo Essay: The Museum of Misfit Houses

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