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From stage coaches to tea parties

An autographed poster from the PBS series "Downton Abbey" greets guests as they come into the Historic Scott House for a high tea recently. Jamie Lund/PineJournal1 / 6
Host James Sheetz introduces the Historic Scott House's evening events, including a high tea followed by a presentation, to the room full of guests. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal2 / 6
Assorted tea sandwiches are served after a soup and salad during the "Tea at the Abbey" event recently. The "Downton Abbey"-inspired high tea ended with white almond cake with raspberry jam and Devonshire cream and lemon tarts. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal3 / 6
James Sheetz, host and owner of the Historic Scott House, pours tea for a guest during a "Downton Abbey" high tea. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal4 / 6
The vintage tin ceiling tile was original to the Historic Scott House in the early 1900s. The tiles were originally in the kitchen, but many had been damaged and moved over the years due to work done on the ceiling. When the house was remodeled by the Sheetz family, this tile was saved and set in the ceiling of the front entry. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal5 / 6
This old grandfather clock belonged to the Scott family for many years. When they sold the house, they took the clock with them. In 2005, the clock returned home and now sits in the original alcove where it was when the Scotts lived there. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal6 / 6

A sign said "Welcome to the Abbey" as fans of "Downton Abbey," a popular British series that aired until 2015 on PBS, gathered at the Historic Scott House in rural Carlton for high tea recently.

The tables were formally set, including white tablecloths and napkins, as classical music played softly in the background.

Host and owner of the house, James Sheetz, greeted guests, then disappeared into the kitchen to check on the food.

The menu was a typical high tea that would be seen on the show: cream of asparagus and cauliflower soup, shrimp with mixed greens, assorted tea sandwiches and of course, dessert. Sitting beside tiny tangy lemon tarts was a white almond cupcake topped with raspberry jam and Devonshire cream.

When the meal was finished, Valerie Coit gave a presentation from her visit of Highclere Castle, where "Downton Abbey" was filmed.

The formal scene was quite a contrast from the humble beginnings of the house.

In the mid-1800s, a rustic stage stop station and hotel sat on the corner of what is known as Scotts Corner, the intersection of county roads 3 and 4 south of Carlton. According to Sheetz, the station was the first stop for travelers coming from Superior on their way to the Twin Cities.

The rough, wooden rectangular structure was rendered obsolete after the railroad came through several years later.

The old stage stop station was purchased by Joseph and Rebecca Mayer, who turned it into a home with gardens in 1881 and lived there until 1909.

Walter and Minnie Scott purchased the farm, including several outbuildings and Lac La Belle, also known as Twin Lakes, in 1910. The original station was expanded and improved many times over the years; a large wood burning furnace and indoor plumbing were installed.

The couple divorced in 1914 and Minnie kept the property.

Sheetz's grandparents, Harry and Rowena, bought the property in 1942 and continued to renovate the house. Sheetz's parents bought the property in 1949 for $3,000. They raised their two sons and two daughters there.

Sheetz, with the help of Marlene Wisuri, turned his research into a book filled with historical photos.

His parents moved out of the house and Sheetz, a self-proclaimed history and antiques enthusiast, began renovations in 2000. The house is furnished with 19th-century pieces as well as dishes handed down in his family.

Sheetz opened the historic home as an event center in 2001.

"We do weddings, meetings, anniversaries, teas, musical events," he said.

Sheetz has visited England many times over the years.

One guest at the high tea, Margaret Ritson, grew up in England.

"It's not like the tea we would have had," Ritson said with her English accent. "We were common folk. We would eat bread and jam. We would have been drinking black tea in mugs instead of tea cups."

Ritson said she enjoyed the pretty Americanized version of high teas at the Scott House.

Many guests said they were planning to attend the Kentucky Derby Day event Saturday. The theme included derby hats and foods that would be served at the Kentucky Derby.

Brenda Carlson, a server, was sporting a pink fascinator hat perched jauntily on her head, which elicited many compliments from the guests.

"I'm going to have the hats and suits, so that will be fun," Sheetz said.

For more information on events at the Historic Scott House, visit historicscotthouse.com or find the "Historic Scott House" page on Facebook.

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