Tour Of Homes

Plain Talk File Photo People stop and chat on the front porch of the house of Brandon and Erika Schapekahm on Court Street in Vermillion. The Schapekahm's historic home was one of five in the Clay County Historical Society’s 2018 Tour of Homes, which took place Dec. 7 last year. The 2019 tour scheduled for Friday, Dec. 6, includes four diverse homes.

For at least 45 years, the Clay County Historical Society (CCHS) has been offering a Tour of Homes in the Vermillion area. This year’s version takes place Friday, December 6, from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m. and promises to be a jolly kick-off to the holiday season, said Wess Pravecek, executive director of the CCHS.

“The Tour of Homes is just a really fun event,” said Pravecek. “We have a nice mix of older and newer houses this year, which is a perfect example of what Vermillion is.”

This year’s tour features four diverse homes, including the following:

The home of John and Doralee Lynch, 31835 469th Avenue, Burbank. This two-story brick house features country living at its best! Of course, Doralee Lynch is known for her many Christmas trees, so expect to see the home decked out in holiday cheer with Christmas trees found everywhere!

Back in Vermillion, stop by the home of Gerry and Jan (Perkins) Petersen, 305 South Yale Street, to enjoy this beautiful ranch-style home that replaced the original Perkins homestead.

At 18 Forest Avenue, enjoy the amazing home of Steve and Carol Smith. This neo-colonial style home is on the Registry of Historic Places.

At 1310 West Main Street, at the home of Joni Freidel, enjoy impressive views from this ranch-style home overlooking the bluff.

Of course, the Tour of Homes is not complete without a final stop at the Austin-Whittemore House, which will be decked out for the season with plenty of holiday decorations. There will also be caroling, piano music, delicious refreshments, and plenty of time to socialize with friends and neighbors after touring is completed.

“Things get swinging around here toward the end of the night, after everyone’s pretty much back from the tour,” said Pravecek. “A few years ago, we acquired a piano from First Lutheran Church in Wakonda and someone usually sits down to play the piano. We have been known to break into Christmas carols every once in a while. … It’s just a very fun and festive time!”

The Tour of Homes and subsequent party back at the Austin-Whittemore House is a perfect fit for the house because Mrs. Austin was known for her love of entertaining, said Pravecek.

“This celebrates Mrs. Austin, who was always wanting to share her house,” said Pravecek. “The Austins were a very giving family. In fact, that’s why the dining room addition and second floor were added, so that Mrs. Austin could entertain more.”

The CCHS’s Tour of Homes, which Pravecek has traced back to at least 1971 (before the Austin Whittemore House had even been restored!), is an important annual fundraiser for the organization, which helps to preserve and promote local history. Tickets for the tour cost $20 each or $25 if you’d like to use a shuttle service between stops (space is nearly gone for this service – call for more information).

Tickets for next week’s Tour of Homes may be purchased at the Austin-Whittemore House, Davis Pharmacy and from Lisa Johnson at the Spa at Wynie Maes. Hosts will check off their home on the ticket as guests enter. The ticket is also to be used for the reception at the Austin-Whittemore House at the end of the evening. Further questions can be directed to Pravecek at 624-8266.


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