Ringland-Smeltzer hosts Holiday Open House

The Ringland-Smeltzer House

The Ringland-Smeltzer House, located at 1019 Second Ave. S. in the historic Oak Hill District of Fort Dodge, will again open its doors for its Holiday Open House from 2 to 4 p.m. today.

The main focus of the Holiday Open House is not just to share in the beauty of the holidays.

“We really just want people to see the house,” Bill Griffel, president of the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, said. “We like people in the house. Enjoying it.”

Both floors will be open for guests.

He added that people in the community don’t always realize that the home is available for public use in hosting parties, musical gatherings, meetings, and other events.

Griffel said the Holiday Open House, which has been held for more than 12 years, offers the Fort Dodge community the opportunity to learn more about the history of the house while enjoying the beauty of the holidays.

While the home is decorated for Christmas, Griffel said the family did not typically partake in holiday decorating traditions. He said there may have been a “Charlie Brown”-style tree in the dining room and stockings hung on the fireplace mantle, but there was little else to the family’s holiday decor.

He said Ann Smeltzer did light the exterior shrubbery surrounding the home in her later years, but typically stuck to the minimal style of holiday decorating from years past.

According to Griffel, the Ringland-Smeltzer family played a significant role economically and culturally in the history and development of Fort Dodge and north central Iowa, beginning in the first years of settlement in the 1850s and lasting until the end of the 20th century and the death of the last member of the family, Ann Smeltzer.

The property is now under the control of the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, which maintains the home as a museum. The Ringland-Smeltzer House stands as a reminder of a period in which Fort Dodge flourished and a reminder of the contributions that the Ringland-Smeltzer family made and continues to make through its charitable trust, according to Griffel.

Decorating the interior of the home took approximately four hours for a team of several volunteers to complete. They included area teachers, members of the Harmony Brigade and their spouses, USG employees, board members of the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, and numerous others.

Smitty’s Garden Center also decorated the exterior of the home with lighted garlands.

Additionally, there will also be caroling in the Oak Hill District on Dec. 16. The Ringland-Smeltzer House will be open to the public at that time as well.

This will mark the second year for the caroling event, and Griffel hopes that more and more singers will join each year.

“It’s just a really neat neighborhood,” he said. “A lot of the houses will be decorated.”

Both events are free.