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WATERLOO — The Friends of the Grout Historic Houses will offer up some Irish hospitality for the annual St. Patrick’s Brunch on March 18.

The event, which will take place at the Snowden House, is a fundraiser for the group, which raises money for maintenance and repairs for the Snowden and Rensselaer Russell houses.

The brunch, which was initiated by the Snowden House board in 2000, has continued after the Snowden and Rensselaer Russell boards merged to create the Friends of the Grout Historic Houses in 2014.

Julie Zell of Waterloo, the group’s president, said the brunch draws around 100 visitors to the Snowden House each year.

“We always get a good turnout,” she said. “It’s very festive. We have wonderful decorations. The food is very elegantly served. Guests are greeted at the door and seated and served. And the board members make all the food themselves.”

The menu will feature baked ham, egg strata, assorted sweet pastries, fruit cups, coffee and champagne or sparkling cider.

“It’s a nice atmosphere,” Zell said. “We have a piano player, so there is lovely background music that still allows for conversation.”

The Snowden House was completed in 1881 and occupied by the William Snowden family. It became a center for culture and music. It was added to the Grout Museum District in 1997 and today is available to rent for special occasions.

The Rensselaer Russell House was built in 1861 and is one of the oldest homes in Black Hawk County. It is the Grout Museum District’s largest artifact and features a classic Victorian interior, Russell family belongings and a 1889 Steinway grand piano.

Both homes are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Friends of the Grout Historic Houses has recently done some painting at the Rensselaer Russell House and purchased all new appliances and the wiring to accommodate them for the Snowden House, Zell said. “And we are desperately seeking funds for cornices for the Rensselaer Russell House. We are looking at finishing painting the trim, and we need to replace the porch floor, which is enormously expensive.”

The group holds a number of fundraisers each year, including their biggest benefit, the Classic Tour of Homes.

Tickets for the brunch are $12.


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