Four uniquely decorated destinations await patrons of Marion City Library’s annual Christmas home Tour on Dec. 4.
Cowboys and crosses, 20 Christmas stockings, a home light by candlelight, and a historic hotel are some highlights of the tour.
“Each stop has a history,” library director Janet Marler said. “They all have beautiful things to see.”
A Victorian era Jane Austin Christmas theme, including parasols, little purses, silhouettes, and lots of lace and ribbons will greet tour-goers who start with refreshments at the library.
“Rachel Olson [of the library] is doing most of the decoration, but we’ve helped a little, too,” Marler said. “We also will have food based on the time period; scones, meringue drops, cucumber and cheese sandwiches.”
Cowboys and crosses
Lori and Chuck McLinden’s western-themed home, east of Marion at 1720 Yarrow Rd., has been in the family for generations. When the holidays come around, Lori cowboys up the heart of their ranch another level.
“Our main tree is all cowboys and crosses,” Lori said. “Some are made of barbwire; others are wood, resin, or metal. I love crosses.”
She said crosses hang in every room year round.
“When you walk in our front door, people can see our family brand inlaid in the floor,” she said.
The brand ties together the family name, generations, and a cross.
“It shows Christ is at the center of our family,” she said.
The house has rustic feel except for the man cave, where a sports and camouflage theme extends to another Christmas tree. A third tree stands in a dining room, decorated with ornaments their children made.
“I love doing it, but I’m pretty picky,” Lori said. “Lauren [her daughter] helps but Chuck and Jarret [her son] stay outta my way.”
For about 116 years, Cheri and Ed Wheeler’s historic home, at 304 Locust St., has remained among the most distinct and ornately built homes in Marion.
“She’s a really neat old girl, this house,” Cheri said. “We try to doll her up, be true to her character, and leave her better than we found her.”
Cheri said patrons would be able to venture up as far as the circular iron staircase that goes up to the attic. Former owners Sadie and Ruth Keller used to tie little gifts onto the banister when the sisters used to host tea parties for neighborhood kids on the roof.
For the tour, much of house will be illuminated with flickering candlelight.
“There will be some electric lights on but I really think this house looks best in candlelight,” Cheri said. “There will be a lot of candles.”
A real Fraser fir by a bay window in the living room will imbibe their home with an authentic Christmas tree scent, while two artificial trees will accent other rooms. Each will have its own color scheme.
“I like a lot of natural decorating,” she said. “I’m just gonna play.”
Santa will have a new stocking to fill this year 5 ½ miles east of Marion County Lake at Melanie and Larry Ensey’s country home at 2842 170th Rd.
“We have always hung up stockings on the mantle,” Melanie said. “With our new grandbaby this year, there will be 20 stockings.”
The stockings are part of a family tradition that started after Melanie’s parents bought the home in 1959.
Larry’s mother made the original stockings, for Larry, Melanie, and their four sons.
“Some of the stockings are as old as our oldest child,” Melanie said. “The six originals go on the fireplace. The others continue onto a shelf beside the mantel.”
The building itself no doubt contains many other family traditions.
“It was the farmhouse I grew up in,” she said. “We always wanted to move back to the country.”
They renovated it in 2013 and in 2014, moved back in.
“We took out some walls and went back to the original wood floors,” she said. “We also re-stoned the fireplace.”
The home is decorated with family heirloom ornaments, and fresh evergreens add to the atmosphere.
“Santa always fills up all the stockings,” Melanie said. “He has never left a lump of coal.”
A temporary home for visitors and travelers, Tammy and Jeremy Ensey will not only open up the doors of the Historic Elgin Hotel at 115 N. Third St. in Marion, but also the penthouse area that the former owners Jim and Nancy Cloutier used to live in.
“People should be able to see the entire hotel, all the guest rooms, the commercial kitchen, the game lounge, and the penthouse,” Tammy said.
She said there are three sitting areas in the penthouse for people to gather and mingle, one of which will be able to be rented for parties, as well as four illustrious suites, two of which have memorable bathing facilities.
“They’ve got our ‘famous fun tub,” Tammy said. “It’s really a two-person Jacuzzi. They are huge. Each is self-heated with a waterfall, a Bluetooth stereo, fancy LED lighting, and a remote control that actually has a button on it that says ‘fun.’ And, is funny, everyone who sees them says, ‘Wow, that is fun.’”
She said the entire hotel would be decorated for the season. It also will feature an assortment of nativity scenes from area people.
“The ladies at the library are going to write up little cards about the stories behind each nativity,” Tammy said. “We don’t quite know what awaits us yet.”
The Christmas tour is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 4.
Tickets are available ahead of time at the library or at each location the day of the tour.
Cost is $5.
More information is available by calling the library at (620) 382-2442.