Saturday, March 21, 2009

Phew! What a scorcher!

(above) The tank tower hidden amongst the trees
We picked the hottest day of the year so far, for our visit to the Harris-Lass Museum in Santa Clara. My painting was done from the car park. I sat in the scorching sun for as long as I could to capture the light and shadows around the tank house (water tower) behind the house. In the museum office is a great 1920's photo of the original site of the tank house, on a farm not far away on Homestead Road. Its hard to imagine that back then this area was covered in acres of prune orchards instead of the miles of asphalt and concrete that exist today.

The farm house was built in 1865 by the Harris family who came from Australia in search of gold. They expanded and improved it over the years. In 1897 the house was purchased by a German sea Captain, Christian Lass and his family, and they lived there until the 1980's. It was sold to the city in 1987 and designated an historic preserve, as the last farm site in Santa Clara.
The house is furnished and still contains many of the personal items used by the Lass family. It was fun trying to choose which items to sketch out of the many fascinating antiques in every room. I loved the kitchen, which has a great 1920's Wedgewood stove; and the parlor with its fancy velvet loveseat and chairs.(above) Kitchen/parlor sketches
Captain Lass had a speaking tube installed from the kitchen to the upstairs landing, so that he could bark his orders through it (great idea, I'm thinking of getting one installed to save me having to shout through the heating vent in the floor to my husband downstairs in his hobby room!) Apparently, Captain Lass also kept canaries and there are several little bird cages dotted around the house. The house is a treasure trove of historic items and you could spend hours looking at them all.
(above) Bedroom/Hall sketches
Thanks to the museum, and its president, who opened the house specially for our group.

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