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Historic home tours, the holiday way

Altadena-1

If your Christmas lights are not yet hung and the tree stand is still buried in the garage, we have an easy solution. Simply procrastinate a bit more and venture to one of Southern California's landmark houses for some instant holiday cheer. Many decorate for the season and open for special tours. The Home staff has rounded up a sampling here:

Altadena-gingerbread-plate Christmas in Altadena: One garden and four homes representing different period architectural styles will be decorated for the holidays and open for touring as part of St. Mark's School's Christmas in Altadena celebration Friday and Saturday night. "All were homes or estates in ruins at one point, and all have been restored to period," said Dhari Thein, one of the organizers. Another draw: All have been decorated for evening viewing, with lights and luminarias to brighten the spirits, she said. (That's the 1913 McFadden estate pictured above, the former residence of early Orange County developer James McFadden and now home of the Saigh family.) Homes will be open from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $30. (626) 791-5610.

Victorian Candlelight Christmas, Fullerton: The 1894 Heritage House, former residence of Dr. George Crook Clark, will be the starting point for the annual weekend celebration organized by the Fullerton Arboretum. The cottage has been decorated in period d├ęcor that includes some of Clark's original furnishings. Groups then walk to another building for entertainment by dozens of costumed characters. Tours depart every 30 minutes from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $15, and reservations are required. (657) 278-4010.

Castle Green, Pasadena: The 1898 landmark blending Moroccan and Victorian architecture will open its gates Sunday for annual holiday tours. Visitors can walk through the original public rooms as well as more than 20 apartments staged for the season. From there, you can walk to Old Town for shopping. 1 to 5 p.m. Admission: $20; children younger than 12 are free. (626) 385-7774.

Historic West Adams: The West Adams Heritage Assn.'s annual Holiday Historic Homes Tour this weekend will highlight seven 100-year-old homes in the Harvard Heights neighborhood. A docent-led progressive dinner is scheduled for Saturday; it's $70, by reservation only, and it departs at 3 p.m. The self-guided walking tour is Sunday; it requires check-in between noon and 2 p.m., and the cost is $30. (323) 732-4223.

Rancho Los Cerritos, Long Beach: Mexican traditions meet American customs Dec. 11 and 12 at this Long Beach landmark, a 166-year-old adobe that is re-creating the holiday spirit of 1850s California. Christmas Candlelight Tours include costumed docents, refreshments and live music. Tours start between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. and last about an hour. $10. Space was filling fast earlier this week, and many early tours had already sold out. (562) 570-1755.

Queen Anne in Arcadia: In the mood for a little "Victorian frivolity"? Perhaps the larger question, what does Victorian frivolity actually look like? The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden attempts to answer that question with an old-fashioned Christmas open house in its Queen Anne Cottage. The festivities run 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Arcadia park, where admission is $3 to $8. (626) 821-3222.

-- The L.A. at Home crew

Photo credits: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

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