Not Hopeful About Dunsmuir

We just learned that Dunsmuir-Hellman Estate will shift operations from a non-profit group to direct city oversight.  Knowing how our cash-strapped city has been cutting back on cultural and park resources, we’re extremely worried this special place will get mothballed.

Like so many places, Dunsmuir has been challenged by the recession.  While owned by the City of Oakland, an independent non-profit organization has managed the estate for decades.  There are weddings and events booked this year and next, but not enough to pay $380k in annual operating costs required for estate upkeep.

Over the past 40 years, the estate has figured into the traditions of East Bay residents.  Well-known Christmas celebrations takes place through December, when the mansion gets decorated to the hilt and plays host to tours, teas and Santa Claus.  It’s part of our cultural fabric!

In more recent years, Easter celebrations, Halloween festivities, picnic days and movie nights have joined the annual roster.  Various groups also host great events, notably the Scottish Highlands Games.  Plus the mansion has figured into a couple movie shoots as well.

We’re pretty depressed about Dunsmuir’s change of control, as reins get handed to Oakland Parks and Recreation now.  We know that our city administrators and elected officials can’t wave a magic wand and support the estate.  Are there any white knights in shining armor out there?

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Last Day For Dunsmuir Xmas

Around the East Bay, Dunsmuir Mansion is really the “go to” spot for holiday cheer.  For the past 38 years, this has been the ideal time to check out the place – filled with 35 rooms of decorations.

Now there’s just one day left to visit, Sunday from 11 am – 5 pm.  The mansion’s located at 2960 Peralta Oaks Ct. (map, directions), and worth a quick trip down Rt. 580 tomorrow.

Dunsmuir Xmas

Of course, volunteers began the decorations in October because there’s so much work involved.  This is a mansion from another era, and worth the loving efforts by these decorators.  According to the Tribune, it takes 5,000 hours to get ready.  Kind of amazing!

Since the weather’s supposed to turn frightful on Sunday, this should be your indoors destination of choice.  Edwardian-dressed docents lead tours through the mansion all day long, and expect to be serenaded by live music too.

Other things going on at Dunsmuir?  You can sign up for a formal tea-time, served at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm for teens/adults (14+).   There’s holiday gifts for sale in the carriage house.  And if the weather’s not too bad, there will be a trolley ride through the estate grounds.

While tickets are pricey, this is the prime fundraiser for maintaining the mansion.  Admission runs $17/adult, $16/seniors (62+), $13/junior (6-13), and free/tots (under 6) at the gate.   If you buy online today, then you incur a $7 order fee but save $5 per ticket.  High teas cost another $25/person, and require advanced reservations.

Honeymoons Remembered At Dunsmuir

Dunsmuir Estate is a great spot in the Oakland Hills, which the public may visit and enjoy on special occasions.  On Friday, there’s a Movie Night celebrating the estate’s star-crossed honeymoon history and So I Married An Axe Murderer will be shown.

Dunsmuir was built by a groom who died on his honeymoon and never moved in.  After his death, his widowed bride lived there until her untimely death two years later, in 1901.

Hollywood discovered this photogenic estate years later, including honeymoon scenes filmed for So I Married An Axe Murderer (see video trailer).  Starring Mike Myers and Nancy Travis, this 1993 summer flick is about a guy who definitely picks the wrong person to marry!

This outdoor screening of Axe Murderer sounds like a nice way to wind up the week.  Dunsmuir’s gate opens at 6pm for picnics, while the movie begins at dusk.  Admission costs only $5/person.  The estate is located at 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, off Highway 580 (directions).