The dream began in 1983 when Elaine and Tony DiBiase purchased the home and decided to open a 3-room Christmas shop in September of that year. The house was recolored as a “painted lady” in 1988 by local colorist Paul Murphy and has been featured in the coffee table book “America’s Painted Ladies”. In 1993, The Christmas House was purchased by Julie and Mark Delgrosso, who continue to operate the business today. Not content to be “just” one of the most photographed buildings in the region, The Christmas House has also won numerous awards for their customer service and product knowledge. Beauty brains.
Built in 1894 by lumber baron Justus Harris, and designed by famous architects Pierce and Bickford who also designed Elmira City Hall, the house was sold in 1904 to Daniel Sheehan, (1860 - 1951). The house became known locally as the Sheehan House. Daniel Sheehan served at various times as Elmira Mayor, Postmaster, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Publisher of the Elmira Herald, and New York State Democratic Chairman. He was co-owner of Sheehan-Dean Dry Goods, for many years Elmira’s largest department store. The Sheehan family lived in this house for 31 years and raised 6 children here. In 1936, with the family grown and gone, the Sheehans moved into a new smaller home on Larchmont Avenue.
In 1940, the house served as a residence for young men of the National Youth Administration, students of aviation at Schweizer Aircraft Corp. The following year, 1941, the building was divided into 9 apartments, with a beauty shop occupying much of the first floor.
Maple Avenue, named for the large Maple trees that once lined both sides of the boulevard, was best known for it’s trolley run back in the 1800s. The tracks ran down the middle of the street and would whisk passengers from the downtown train stations to the bustling village of Wellsburg, an area boasting four tourist resort hotels at the time. These resorts were built over the natural mineral springs and visitors would flock to take advantage of their healing waters. Even Teddy Roosevelt found his way to Wellsburg to take advantage of the mineral springs. Regretfully, those four resorts, along with 95% of the rest of the village, were totally leveled in a devastating fire in 1912. Historic Maple Avenue has been the home to many well known Elmira families and also to three mayors, a congressman, a governor, and several judges.