History of Midland's Santa House
By Mary Neely, former MACF Board Chair
The present Santa House was built in 1987, thanks to the Midland Area Community Foundation and area donors. It replaced the temporary structure which needed to be erected and dismantled each year and which had fallen into disrepair. Architect Steve Barstow and Tom Valent from Gerace Construction did the research and developed the plans for the new house. Its stucco and fieldstone exterior, approved by the Historical Commission, helped Santa’s residence blend with the courthouse architecture. It featured a slanted roof for reindeer take- offs and a bay window trimmed for the holidays. The building’s interior was a wonderful mixture of two lofts filled with holiday displays, a fieldstone fireplace, a Grandfather’s clock and a carved chair for Santa. Throughout the house elves were busily at work – truly a joy to behold.
Gerace Construction Company and other contractors eagerly stepped forward when they heard about the project and proceeded to build the house. Under Steve Barstow’s watchful eye and Gerace Construction’s leadership, Blasy Electric, Pat’s Gradall, Haddix Lumber, 4-D Builders, Fisher Sand and Gravel, Brandle Roofing, Ramar Construction, France Electric, Cook’s of Midland, Dow Chemical Company, Ritter Signs, and many anonymous donors made the dream a reality. Once completed the Santa House was given to Midland County. The agreement was that it be made available to the Midland Foundation each year in November, December and January for Santa’s use. In October, the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, the oldest and only non-profit Santa School in the world is held for three days in Midland’s Santa House.
In 1997 a Glockenspiel was added to the House made possible by a gift from the Dow Chemical Company in celebration of their 100th Anniversary. Shutters were also added thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Anderson (Dorothy) Arbury.
Because of Tom Valent’s imagination, creativity and direct line to Santa, new displays magically appear each year which allow thousands of children, their families and friends to experience fantasy and excitement. The Santa House is truly a meaningful bit of Midland history. Let us hope that it will continue to bring holiday happiness to all for many years to come.
Note: for current information on the Santa House and Courthouse Lighting Ceremony, click the links below: