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Gingerbread houses built for the season

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

HOUGHTON — The Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw in Houghton got into the holiday spirit Thursday with a gingerbread open house. The event was open for the public to come in and decorate a “miner” gingerbread house. Visitors can also see a gingerbread version of Hancock and Houghton.

“I call them ‘miner houses’ because we have big fancy houses and these smaller, simple gable houses that are all the same,” said Museum Director Elise Martin. “We picked gingerbread because it’s a traditional holiday activity but it’s not a part of any religious tradition.”

The houses all started out the same but they did not stay that way for long. Visitors were provided with frosting and candies to decorate their own houses. It was an event that the museum had been putting on for ages, but had only recently become a big hit.

“We’ve been doing it ever since the very first year of the museum, maybe 10 years. In that time, it’s grown and morphed, mostly grown,” said Martin. “This is the third year we’ve partnered with the city.”

For the last three years, the city of Houghton has put on its Victorian Christmas event in the downtown, opening with gingerbread decorating at the museum just before the other events kick off. In that time, the gingerbread decorating open house has become an event of big industrial scale. In total, 160 houses, all handmade by local Chris Alquist, were prepared for Thursday’s event.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

“I have made thousands of these gingerbread houses,” said Alquist, who makes similar houses for an event at the Portage Lake District Library. “Once you start, you can’t stop … it’s just a joy to make all of this stuff.”

Alquist will also be bringing a collection of seasonal children’s books for Saturday’s event for storytelling, another timeless Christmas tradition.

“Last year, I was so busy with the gingerbread houses I didn’t have time to read,” said Alquist, “But the books were there and parents were invited to read to their kids.”

Saturday’s open house will also feature a string quartet and an opportunity to meet Santa. There will also be another attraction this year.

“Another strong association with the holidays is toy trains,” said Martin. Two toy trains and tracks will be laid out, a smaller wooden model owned by Alquist and a pre-war standard gauge electric set owned by museum volunteer Ellen Seidel.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

The train connection does not end there. Also on display is an exhibit about the Copper Range Rail Road on loan from Michigan Technological University.

The Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw is located at 105 Huron Street in Houghton. The open house will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance is free, but guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to a local pantry.

After the open house at the museum, the city of Houghton will be holding its annual Victorian Christmas from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the downtown.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) A gingerbread village has sprung up at the Carnegie Museum after Thursday’s open house where museum patrons had the chance to decorate the houses as they saw fit. The base design was created by Chris Alquist. The museum will hold a second open house Saturday afternoon where patrons can enjoy the view of the houses.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) Carnegie Museum volunteer Ellen Seidel loaned this pre-war standard gauge electric train set to the museum for display during the museum’s open houses Thursday and Saturday. There is also a display on loan from Michigan Tech.

(Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette) Carnegie Museum volunteer Ellen Seidel loaned this pre-war standard gauge electric train set to the museum for display during the museum’s open houses Thursday and Saturday. There is also a display on loan from Michigan Tech.

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