German Village Gazette

Haus und Garten Tour

Diversity of sites part of the fun, homeowner says

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Joe Kurzer said nothing quite prepares you for the thought of 5,000 people traipsing through your house on an afternoon in late June.

But he said he is as ready as he's going to get in refining his 1,600-square-foot house at 925 S. Third St. It's one of 12 stops -- 10 houses and two gardens -- on this year's German Village Haus und Garten Tour, slated for 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 29.

Kurzer said he's got some offbeat tastes: lots of Chinese artifacts mixed with vintage American furniture accented by vibrant artwork.

But for this event-planner for Victoria Secret with a background in design, it's all about style, comfort and a singular atmosphere.

"I like designing my space," Kurzer said of the two-bedroom house. "It's fun collecting things and putting them together to see how they look.

"I don't like to shop just to shop," he added. "I like to hunt -- find things that look good together."

Among the highlights is the new kitchen, complete with java-colored cabinets topped with stainless-steel display cabinets exhibiting Kurzer's silver collection. Countertops are made of quartz.

Only those who purchase PreTour tickets will be allowed on the second floor.

Upstairs at Kurzer's house, a sparkly chandelier dangles over an old-fashioned claw-foot bathtub. A giant print of Jackie O hangs in a bedroom that also serves as an office.

The master bedroom is emphasized by a four-post bed, vintage chairs, the reproduction of a Hong Kong map and a Chinese armoire, or wedding cabinet.

Kurzer has been a German Village resident for 15 years and has lived in his current house for three. It was part of the tour in 2007 with its previous owners.

He said he was somewhat reticent about being on the tour, but decided it was a way to help out his neighborhood and finish those nagging repairs.

"The fun thing about the tour is everybody's house is so different," said Kurzer, now a member of the German Village Society Board of Trustees.

Tickets for the 55th annual tour, titled Living History: German Village, are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the tour. They are available at the Meeting Haus, 588 S. Third St. They also are available at germanvillagetour.com; or at Giant Eagle, where they are $18 each.

A few spots are available for PreTour activities, to be held from 5 to about 11:30 p.m. June 28.

The evening starts with a private viewing of the tour stops, followed by the Willow Street cocktail party. Guests will then move along to dinner at a private residence or Party on the Platz at the Meeting Haus.

Tickets are $150 for Society members and $175 for non-members. For those who only attend the Party on the Platz, designed for young professionals 35 years old and younger, tickets are $125. They also get a tour of homes.

All proceeds benefit the German Village Society.

Shiloh Todorov, Society executive director, said the Society is thrilled people such as Kurzer are willing to give up their time for the Village.

"Being on the Haus und Garten Tour is without a doubt one of the biggest gifts a homeowner can give to the German Village Society," Todorov said. "Without them, we have no event.

"We know some folks use it as a reason to finally complete that rehab project or update the bathroom, but every single property owner who has joined us for 55 years does it for pride of place and love of neighborhood and we'll never, ever thank them enough for the investment they make."

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