Tour of Homes jumpstarts holiday decorating in MP historic homes

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


House guests shuffled around in blue booties as they walked through the five historic houses in Mt. Pleasant handpicked by the T.T.T. Society for Tour of Homes on Sunday, Nov. 19.

For 19 years, T.T.T. Chapter DD has hosted Tour of Homes to raise money for girls who have completed the fourth grade to go to Camp Wyoming during the summer. The National T.T.T. Society is a nonprofit philanthropic organization founded in 1911 in Mt. Pleasant.

The showcased homes are always much-anticipated by guests who attend Tour of Homes every year, and the committee searches Mt. Pleasant to find unique and antique houses that will appeal to the audience, T.T.T. member Elizabeth Garrels said.

After years of being asked to open her home by the Tour of Homes committee Lois Crane finally relented.

? (T.T.T. member) Sheila Allender was so sweet, I couldn?t turn her down,? Crane said, explaining that Allender?s husband takes care of mowing the grass, trimming the trees and other work around the yard at her home at 601 N. White St.

The house has been in the Crane family since 1945. Built in the late 1850s or early 1860s, modern touches have been gracefully incorporated to preserve the integrity of the original design.

To the right of the front doors is a library with books stacked to the ceiling. Crane stood there greeting tour-goers, answering questions about the structure and the history of the house.

?This house needed reorganizing and now it?s done,? Crane said.

?It inspired us to do a lot of cleaning and organizing,? Crane?s son Mark Zanger said.

The original house consisted of the dining room, which Crane had decorated and set with place settings worthy of Christmas dinner, and two small rooms with a kitchen in the basement and a bedroom above. In the dining room, circa 1875, now hangs the portraits of Crane?s husband?s ancestors, Amos Winshop Dana and Ednah Louisa Bartels-Dana.

In the sunroom, blue and white tiles brought back from Spain in 1931 line the top of the wall. Walking back through the dining room and taking a left goes into the modern kitchen.

?They?ve done a beautiful job of incorporating modern areas, which you can see as you walk through the kitchen,? T.T.T. member Trisha File said.

As Crane?s home is originally antique, Kristen and Eric Heerdt?s house was getting ?oohs? and ?ahhs? of appreciation for its resemblance of an older home even though construction was completed in February 2014.

After a fire destroyed the Heerdt?s house in December 2012, they looked to rebuild at 609 N. White St., wanting to retain the uniqueness of the house they loved in a place that could give them a fresh start.

?We lost a dog (in the fire). My daughter lost pretty much everything,? Kristen said. ?We did all the trim ourselves,? she said, adding that the trim around the kitchen window is the only wood they were able to salvage from their original home.

Kristen said in opening up their home to guests for House of Homes that it was a redemptive way to put the past behind them. ?We thought we were ready,? she said. ?There were a lot of people who were curious.?

Taking a detour out to the country, Eileen Ensminger stood in her kitchen greeting people at 1979 Franklin Ave.

Now-homeowner Ensminger grew up in this house, running through the rooms with her sister when they were children. ?This is why it?s special to us. It?s my home place,? she said.

Ensminger?s family has owned the house since 1954. When she took possession of the house, she ?gutted? the whole house to remodel, but wanted to preserve the outside structure.

?People thought we were nuts,? Ensminger said. For perspective on why she remodeled, Ensminger said that one of the now-bathrooms used to be her parents? bedroom.

For Tour of Homes, Ensminger had broken out all of her Christmas decorations, saying that she likes to change things up frequently. Matching the sparkly holiday décor, two guests used their own booties in lieu of the blue ones offered them. Donna Dierdorff and Gloria Bishop attend Tour of Homes every year, slipping their own sparkly gold house slippers on and off as to not track in dirt.

?This starts our Christmas,? Dierdorff said. ?You get so many ideas for how to decorate your own home for the holidays.?

As guests toured Ensminger?s house, one visitor asked specifics about what the rooms used to look like. ?I?m trying to visualize,? the guest said, adding that she was a friend of Ensminger?s sister when they were teenagers and used to frequently spend the night there.

Back in town, Angie Jandrey gladly welcomed friends and acquaintances into her home at 202 N. Harrison. As a recently retired schoolteacher from Lincoln Elementary School, Jandrey was looking forward to seeing past students and parents of students traipse through her doors.

Her home, built in the 1920s, is what she described as a craftsman bungalow style. ?I grew up in this style of home,? Jandrey said, who has now lived in this house since 1992. ?I saw it and I knew it was home forever.?

Jandrey had help decorating from her sister Alisa Collier, who she calls ?the Christmas girl.? As a house guest complimented the amount of Christmas red Jandrey had displayed in the nooks and crannies of her home, Jandrey said, ?It really is a teachers? color, isn?t it??

This isn?t the first time Jandrey has opened her home for Tour of Homes. She also participated in the event in 1993.

?I love this community. I always have, and when you make connections with so many people, it?s fun to see them in your home,? Jandrey said. ?I think it?s important to share,? she added, in typical schoolteacher fashion.

One street over, Virginia Styron was showing off the antiques she has collected at her 202 N. Adams home.

One of her most prized possessions sat on the windowsill in the dining room ? a glass cobalt blue squirrel given to her by her mother. Blue glass decorates much of Styron?s home and she said this squirrel spurred the cobalt-blue obsession.

Like Crane at 601 N. White St., Styron was hesitant to have her home listed for Tour of Homes. ?My house is not fancy,? she said to the tour committee. After convincing her husband, however, she said that it was worth it.

?Now I?m ready for Christmas,? Styron said, pointing out the holiday decorations. ?It?s been fun. I?ve seen a lot of people I know and haven?t seen for a while. It?s just like having a party.?