Holiday Nostalgia on Display in Crofton

George St. Clair has mounted eight window boxes reminiscent of the old holiday department store displays.

George St. Clair has mounted eight window boxes like these on his Crofton home. (Credit: Tim Lemke)
George St. Clair has mounted eight window boxes like these on his Crofton home. (Credit: Tim Lemke)
For many people, it was a holiday tradition. They'd load into the family station wagon or hop on a train, and head into the city. They'd go to the biggest department stores and peer into the windows at the lavish holiday displays. There would usually be a moving Santa Claus, a Nativity scene or even ice skaters moving around a rink. 

Those big department store windows are a thing of the past in the era of malls and big box retail, but one Crofton man has been working to recapture the holiday fun. 

On the corner of Swinburne and Shaftsbury Avenue in Crofton, George St. Clair has constructed eight window boxes, perfectly reminiscent of the department store windows of old. 

"We all remember those windows," St. Clair said. "But the malls...they don't have windows."

The windows on St. Clair's house feature a variety of holiday scenes. There's are several different Santa Clauses. There's a scene of carolers. There's a Nativity, and a small Christmas village. 

St. Clair, a retired Capitol Police Officer, began building the windows in 1972 shortly after moving to Crofton. For years, he kept them on display inside his home, but four years ago, he decided to mount them on the exterior of his house. He's periodically built new boxes, so there's now a total of eight. He figures he has enough space for three or four more. 

St. Clair fills the boxes with figures and other items he finds at Costco. 

"They have a lot of good stuff," he said. 

Each box is made of wood with clear plastic windows. It takes St. Clair two full days to put them up—one to mount the boxes, and another to fill them and create the scenes. 

St. Clair battled pneumonia in the fall but there was never a thought of him not putting the windows up for the holiday season. Neighbors count on them, he said, and even gets questions in the summertime about them. 

Do you remember the old window boxes from the major department stores?


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