Christmas spirit flows through this cozy Victorian cottage
Christmas is coming to the cozy cottage at 1221 Winnie. The halls are decked with a thousand glittering ornaments, hundreds of yards of colored ribbon and dozens of angels, nutcrackers and Santa figurines.
Outside, there’s a bountiful garden overflowing with flowers and greenery; inside there are twinkling lights and glowing candles.
“It’s hard not to smile when you see all of this,” said Bob Stults, who owns the 1882 cottage with his wife, Ronna.
Bob Stults might appreciate the result, but it’s Ronna who single-handedly creates the garlands, ties the bows and designs and decorates half a dozen trees.
“This a wonderful house for Christmas; it has so many windows, pocket doors, high ceilings and a beautiful staircase,” Ronna Stults said. “The rooms are cheerful and Christmas flows all the way through.”
This year, there’s a special reason for abundant holiday spirit: The couple’s two granddaughters, ages 1 and 3, will be visiting, and Ronna Stults hopes to provide some magical memories, she said.
For Ronna Stults, who has the eye and the heart of an interior designer, this means having the perfect Christmas décor.
Open the front door on the wide and welcoming porch, and you step into the home’s entryway. To the right is the elegant parlor, painted a deep gold, with ornaments in red and gold. Through the pocket doors, the dining room features shades of green, gold and purple with complementary garlands.
“Color is my guiding principle,” she said. “I’m picky about every placement.”
Heirlooms and collections are integral pieces in her design each year.
Santa figures — all with sweet expressions, a must for Ronna — are poised throughout the parlor near a parade of nutcrackers. A colorful display of Christmas stockings trims the traditional Victorian staircase and a multitude of angels reside in the dining room.
Of all the Christmas decorations, Ronna Stults has two favorites.
“I have a green felt Advent calendar in the shape of a Christmas tree that my children had when they were small,” she said. “It has a tiny mouse that moves each day.”
The other is her olive wood Nativity.
“My parents brought this to me from Israel when I was a teenager, and even though I’m missing the Mary, it’s a treasure for me,” she said.
The oldest daughter of Pastor Ron Guidroz and his wife, Jerry Ann, Ronna grew up moving often as her father was called to various churches. Every Christmas, the family traveled to be with extended family, usually far from where they were living, so there was little need to decorate the house for the holidays.
“Once I had my own home and family, I found I took pleasure in creating my own unique decorations for the season,” she said.
There are now more than 60 Rubbermaid crates of decorations that Bob will put away in the ample attic after the New Year arrives. But, even then, Ronna’s Christmas work will not be done.
“I look for Santa Clauses and angels all year long, and I find them everywhere — in antique stores, in thrift shops, at big-box sales,” she said.
While decorating for Christmas can be tiring and takes time away from her volunteer work, the result is worth it, she said.
“For me, this house has a peaceful feeling all year round, but especially at Christmas,” she said.
Many families have celebrated their holidays at 1221 Winnie, where Ronna and Bob Stults reside.
One notable family — Robert and Mayme Lyons — raised their four children in the house. They bought it in 1910 from Miles C. Bowden, an independent carpenter who lived next door. The house had been severely damaged in the 1900 Storm and was subsequently remodeled by Bowden. Sanborn Insurance maps show the original footprint of the house was much altered in the 1910 review.
Later, Robert Lyons became Galveston’s postmaster general, and in 1940, when he died suddenly, his wife replaced him, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
The Bob Lyons Postoffice at 58th Street and Broadway on the island is named in his honor.