A tour of four Pilot Grove homes that are decked out for Christmas is set for 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 8.
Jackie Reuter, one of the organizers of the tour, said they wanted to show the variety of homes in Pilot Grove, from historical to traditional to modern shop/house combos known as “shouses.” The tour was held for about five years in the 1990s, but fell by the wayside, Reuter said. It was popular then, so Reuter thought people would be happy to have that opportunity again, she said.
“We have several historic homes in Pilot Grove that are very nice, and the younger people are building ‘shouses,’ and a lot of people have interest in seeing those, especially when they’re decorated,” she said.
Tickets are $15, and the proceeds go towards the St. Joseph Catholic School in Pilot Grove. In future years, the proceeds will go to other groups in Pilot Grove, Reuter said. There isn’t a set route for the tour, so people can go to any house in any order from 1 to 5 p.m.
Kathy Phillips and her husband Wyatt contracted to build their house off Highway 135, and moved up from their farms south of Pilot Grove in 1997. Since she’s been living there, people have told her, “I bet it looks great at Christmas,” Kathy Phillips said.
Philips said she would buy a little more decorations every year. She’s quit adding to her collection in recent years, and decided it was time for people to see it, she said.
She had thought about a Christmas homes tour before, so,when Reuter reached out to her about this year’s tour, she thought it was a great idea. She also liked that the proceeds will go to benefit the St. Joseph Catholic School.
Two of the trees in the house are Phillips’ favorite decorations: the big tree in the great room, and a smaller tree upstairs that belonged to Wyatt’s mother, she said. The family tree includes ornaments that his mother collected over the years, including a garland that was all her family could afford during the Great Depression, Phillips said.
“It’s the memories that you collect over the years, that’s why I think it’s fun to decorate,” she said.
Gentrie Zeller and her husband Chris built their “shouse,” a combination of a shop and a house, in 2017, making it the newest home on the tour. They did a lot of work on the house themselves, so they’re especially proud of it and were honored Reuter asked them to be a part of the tour, Gentrie Zeller said.
The house is on Chris’ grandfather’s farm, where they have cattle, Zeller said. The shop part of the house is useful for farm work, and also a good space for gathering, she said. Some of the wood and tin used on the inside of the home came from a barn on Gentrie’s mother’s family farm in Green City, she said.
Also included on the tour are a 1911 home owned by Charlie and Joyce Cravens, and the 1859 Crestmead plantation home owned by Ann Betteridge, where many members of the family will be present to describe its historical features. Tickets are available at Citizens Community Bank, Alliant Bank, Otelco, Rhonda’s Hair and the Pilot Grove High School. You can also buy tickets at any of the houses by cash or check on the day of the tour.