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June 2, 2011
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First Annual North Star House Festival commemorates the 100th anniversary of historic auto race to Tahoe

North Star House in Grass Valley, a 1905 Julia Morgan-designed home currently undergoing rehabilitation, will hold its first North Star House Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 4. The free outdoor event marks the official transition of the site from rescue project to community-use venue. The festival is themed "Race Day at the House" and commemorates the 100th anniversary of a historic automobile race to Tahoe over primitive roads and deep snow.

The 14-acre site surrounding the North Star House has undergone extensive improvements in the last year and now features a Great Lawn and several distinct areas to host community events. People are encouraged to "bring or buy a picnic" to enjoy on the Great Lawn: Vendors from the Nevada County Growers Market will be selling prepared foods, fresh produce, and beverages. Live music will be performed throughout the day, and a host of activities will be available to children including arts and crafts, games with prizes, face-painting and a magic show.

Main rooms of the North Star House will be open for guests to visit, and photos illustrating the House's history will be on display. Docents will be on hand to talk about the history of the North Star House, its residents and Julia Morgan, and to answer visitors' questions.

"We're thrilled to begin this new phase in the life of the North Star House," said Peggy Levine, executive director of the North Star Historic Conservancy. "For seven years members of the community have donated their time and energy to the clean-up and stabilization of this historic site. This year the House was placed on State and National Historic Registers, and we want to mark that as the start of a new chapter. We invite folks to come out and celebrate with us."

"Race Day at the House" commemorates the 100th anniversary of an automobile race through the Sierras. On June 2, 1911, North Star Mine engineer A.B. Foote and the Empire Mine's George Starr set off to Tahoe City in Foote's modified Ford Model T.

The race was put on by the Tahoe Tavern, whose owners hoped to engage the wealthy sons of Bay Area elite in an exciting adventure: Be the first automobile to arrive at Tahoe for the summer season. They were certain the event would yield great publicity for their pub. Much to the owners' dismay, over nine long days Foote and Starr along with several friends arduously maneuvered their vehicle over wagon roads, snow drifts and even a rushing river to arrive first at in Tahoe City on June 10, 1911. In honor of their feat, the North Star House will showcase several vintage cars including Ford Model As and Model Ts as well as historic military vehicles.

The North Star House is located at 12075 Old Auburn Road in Grass Valley, approximately one mile off of Highway 49 near the Nevada County Fairgrounds. For info NorthStarConservancy.org

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The Union Updated Jun 2, 2011 09:46PM Published Jun 2, 2011 09:45PM Copyright 2011 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.