Johnstown Independent

Home tour kicks off holiday season

By SCOTT RAWDON
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Organizing a holiday home tour can be a pretty big job.

“It’s a combination of many things,” said Mary Lou Fairall, chair of the West Licking Historical Society’s home tour committee.

“Some people volunteer” their homes, she said. After that, it’s up to the committee to get on the phone and get persuasive.

This year, the committee secured quite a few people. The Dec. 4 annual Country Holiday Home Tour features eight tour sites.

Fairall said one of this year’s highlights is the historic Etna Township House, 9363 Hazelton-Etna Road, which the Etna Township trustees donated to the society.

“It’s going to surprise people how we’ve pulled that place together,” she said. “We put hours and hours of work into it and it’s just beautiful.”

The township house was built in 1902 to serve Etna Township as a meeting hall for township business. The trustees gave it to the society in 2009, and it’s since been renovated into a combination meeting room and historical center, decorated for the holidays.

Fairall is certain Pataskala farmer Howard Emswiler’s antique tractor display, 13167 Morse Road in Jersey Township, will be a hit with the men on the tour. Nearly 40 years ago, Emswiler began buying antique tractors, many of which were purchased at farm auctions from local farmers who had died or retired.

“Two years ago, we built a new building in which to put most of these tractors, along with the other tractors that were in our farming operation,” Emswiler said. His employee, Vernal Darst, and other employees restored many of the tractors.

“We also have a collection of toys that were purchased through the years,” Emswiler said.

Fairall said this years tour homes are “scattered” throughout Western Licking County, such as Shannon and Monty Mills’ home, 28 Dellenbaugh Loop in Cumberland Trail. Their modern two-story, four-bedroom home features a Jacuzzi tub, hardwood floors and a large open family room. Visitors will enjoy the Mills’ snowman collection and table set for Christmas dinner, Fairall said.

In Harrison Township, Douglas and Jane Mullins’ rural home, 8991 Creek Road, features a collection of glass Christmas trees and other holiday decorations. The downstairs will be set up like an English tea party and the home also features original artwork, hand-blown glass pumpkins and antiques.

Fairall said the West Licking County Historical Society is devoted to featuring the historic Sterling Theater in the Pataskala Town Hall, 430 S. Main St., and the venue has been a staple of the tour for the last three years.

The theater, located on the second floor, has had many uses, including a venue for local school entertainment programs and as a movie theater until about 1970. The old theater came back to life in 2008 with new windows, fresh coats of paint and a new sound system, making it ready to show movies and entertain guests once again.

Nestled back in Hillside Farms is Michael and Jody Perkins’ wooded and remodeled home, 181 Apple Blossom Road. Its owners describe it as a welcoming “Christmas Wonderland,” complete with lights and decorations in “warm, rich, earthy tones.”

Steeped in history is the Faith Bible Church, 12239 Morse Road in Jersey Village, which is the oldest church in Jersey Township. It was founded in 1820 as a Presbyterian church and the present building was built in 1856 for $3,000. Its pipe organ was installed in 1947 and stained glass windows added in 1950. The beautiful white church is decorated for the season.

Barbara Triplett’s Brooksedge Development home, 650 Keltonhurst Drive, is a cozy modern ranch with family heirlooms throughout and Christmas decorations featuring a collection of nearly 100 snowmen.

Fairall said all of the homes and sites on the tour were decorated for the holidays privately. No outside professional decorators were involved.

“This is the way you can do it in your own home if you want to,” she said.

Fairall wanted to be sure people knew the West Licking County Historical Society is sponsoring the tour, not another society with a similar name.

“This is West Licking,” she said, “not the county organization. People do confuse us.”

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