Fresno State's University House shines during holiday season

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Fresno State's University House is always a sight in Central Fresno, but it's even more noticeable during the holiday season.

Fresno State's University House is always a sight in central Fresno, but it's even more noticeable during the holiday season.

"We always make an effort to have all the windows open so they can see all the decorations that are inside while they drive by, just for them to feel connected to the house and to know that we want to celebrate this time with them," said Mary Castro, First Lady of Fresno State and wife of President Joseph Castro.

The two gave ABC30 an exclusive tour of the house on Friday, showing off the 7,000+ square foot home and all that comes with it. The family moved into the house after Dr. Castro was named president of the university in 2013.

"It's a special privilege to live at University House," Dr. Castro said. " There's a sense of ownership that I think our community has for this special place, and we treasure that."

University House was donated to Fresno State by the McMahon family in 1965 and has been the home of every university president since. It can be found on N. Van Ness Boulevard, near E. Holland Avenue.

In addition to being a home for the president and his family, the estate also serves as a place for the Castros to connect with students and the community, using the grounds to host dinners and other social events.

A brand-new building on the property will serve as an event center just outside the house. Presidents and their families are allowed to add personal touches (for example, the Castros decided to remove the carpet on the main stairwell), but such changes are a process because the building is technically owned by the state.

"Whenever we're making changes to it we have to be aware of all the different regulations around construction and contracting and so forth," Dr. Castro said.

The house is perhaps most visible during the holidays because of its location on Christmas Tree Lane. The home is decorated with a different theme each year; this year, the theme is "Empowering Students Through the Light of Higher Education to Reach their Highest Heights." The theme is, of course, always centered around Fresno State.

"I thought it was an especially important message to get to any child that's going down Christmas Tree Lane to see Fresno State and to start thinking about that being their school and that being the place that wants to welcome them," Mary Castro said.

Christmas Tree Lane is open to the public from now until 10 p.m. on December 25.
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