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Christmas home tour is novel and nostalgic

News editor

Something old, something new, and something borrowed might bring to mind a wedding is in the works, but those words also describe Marion City Library’s annual Christmas home tour from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 3.

“We’re always fortunate that people are so generous to open their homes,” library director Janet Marler said. “We have a couple of older ones, a couple of newer ones, remodeled ones — some good variety this year.”

This year’s theme, “A Novel Christmas,” will be carried out at the library by making something old into something new.

“We’re taking pages out of these old books that aren’t worth anything and we’re making ornaments out of them,” Marler said.

Refreshments and book and gift items for sale will be available at the library, where tour goers can buy $5 tickets.

Tickets also can be purchased at the door of any of the four homes on this year’s tour.

Max and Barbara Jackson

History is one reason Max and Barbara Jackson are opening their home at 301 S. Thorp St. to the public. They’re hoping friends and acquaintances of the Larry Reiswig family, who formerly lived in the house, will welcome the chance to relive some memories by visiting.

“It gives them a chance to come back and reminisce and tell stories about their youth,” Barbara said.

Parts of the house will feel unfamiliar, as the Jacksons have done extensive remodeling.

“Barbara envisioned moving a wall and expanding the kitchen,” Max said. “Based on her insight, skill, and experience, she dramatically altered the architecture of the first floor.”

More reminiscing will be sparked for some when they visit a bedroom with pictures and memorabilia dedicated to former Marion High School teacher Pat Jackson, Max’s mother.

Another room is based on Barbara’s singing career.

As for Christmas décor?

“In keeping with my personality, which my husband absolutely adores, it’s eclectic,” Barbara said. “We’re not following any theme; I’m a bit of a rebel when it comes to stuff like that. There will be some items borrowed from people in our church who have done this before. They’re adding some of their expertise and decorations from the past, for which we are grateful.”

Doug and Lori Heerey

It didn’t take too much arm twisting for Doug and Lori Heerey to sign up their home at 174 Eastmoor Dr. for the tour.

“We thought it was the right thing to do,” Doug said. “We get to see a lot of homes because Lori’s a realtor, and it’s just fun to see other people’s homes. Plus, it kind of forces you to finish up little projects.”

While Lori described their decorations as traditional, with lots of garland, there are plenty of unique touches to create an air of nostalgia.

Chief among those is the basement, which the Heereys have remodeled in mid-20th century style, complete with a silver Christmas tree and color wheel.

“It’s new this year,” Lori said. “When you go down into the basement you go back in time a little bit, and that’s why we got the silver Christmas tree.”

Vintage ornaments hang from the branches.

“We have a pretty good handful of ornaments we got from my folks,” Doug said.

Spindles taken from the Heerey children’s baby bed have been transformed into Santas by Elaine Ewert.

“People may remember the names of Bus and Sue Hassinger,” Lori said. “They gave our son a vintage Coca Cola Santa Claus. It’s about a foot tall and it’s stuffed, but his face is like a doll face. It’s kind of cool to have that.”

Other items of interest include a painting of Morning Star School created by Irene Richmond, and a vintage atomic amoeba glass pitcher and glassware.

Visitors may be greeted with a squawk from Flapper, a 20-year-old cockatiel.

“He’ll make attempts at the Andy Griffith theme song,” Doug said.

Rodney and Diane Richmond

Tour goers will need to drive north on Walnut St. and follow the road as it curves under the highway, over a bridge and railroad tracks, leading to the home of Rodney and Diane Richmond at 2049 Sunflower Rd.

The Richmonds have participated in the home tour in the past, but it will be the first time they’ve done so since moving to the country.

Diane said their decorations will have a rustic theme to go along with their country home, with many decorations made from burlap.

Their daughters, Amber Thompson of Boulder, Colorado, and Erin Reagan of Lees Summit, Missouri, both incorporated burlap into their weddings. Diane said she had been waiting for the right project to do with some of the leftovers.

“I’m doing placements and runners,” she said. “I have burlap in some of my wreaths. I’d like to get stockings made out of it, but I may run out of time.”

Decorations upstairs will have a country theme, including a Christmas tree.

A tree downstairs will feature all of the ornaments Amber and Erin made as children, Diane said.

“They enjoy coming home and seeing them here,” she said. “They just all bring back memories when you look at them.”

Her daughters are involved with planning and decorating.

“They’ve been sending me ideas and picking things up and sending them to me,” Diane said.

Rodney helped her get the decorating ball rolling by helping put up a 9-foot tree and getting decorations out, but he’s largely left decorating to Diane.

“He likes to just sit back and watch or stay out of the way,” she said. “Sometimes that’s better because it just let’s me do my thing. I’ve always liked to decorate for the Christmas holidays.”

Kathy Biswell

Kathy Biswell may be relatively new to Marion, but not to home tours.

“I love doing home tours,” she said. “I did a couple up in Manhattan, I did three in Topeka. It’s really fun.”

Biswell has been fixing up the house she bought last May at 325 Elm St., but while there’s still minor work to do, that wasn’t going to deter her from decorating for the home tour.

“It’s kind of a work in progress,” she said. “I think people will be amused. It’s not the typical Christmas stuff.”

Visitors will notice that when they come through the front door and see a bull’s head in a Santa hat hanging over the fireplace.

“I have an old set of bed springs hanging over the dining room table with lights,” she said. “I collect a lot of the old, bright, shiny ornaments. I usually do about five trees.”

One of those trees will be decked out in snowflake ornaments.

“Everybody’s always raved about how awesome that is,” Biswell said.

Visitors will have more to explore throughout the house, as Biswell has several unique collections that include antique game boards, a kitchen table covered in old yardsticks, and miniature decorative chairs made from cans.

“I repurpose stuff,” Biswell said. “I like old rusty stuff and antiques. Everybody’s welcome to go upstairs, downstairs, they can walk all over the house.”

From past experience, she expects to see some quizzical looks.

“It’s kind of funny when people say, ‘What was she thinking when she did that?’” Biswell said.

Marler said attendance has been good every year since the first tour in 1999 to raise money for the depot. Proceeds from the tour will be used for programs and children’s items.

Last modified Nov. 23, 2017

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