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History opens its doors in Medina for Holiday Home Tour

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There’s no place quite like home — and the old adage holds true for the five Medina houses chosen for their history and unique architecture that opened their doors to visitors Sunday.

After a year off to move its headquarters, the Medina Community Design Committee returned with the third Holiday Home Tour since the organization took over the event from Medina County YWCA.

The event, which cost $22 per person, raised funds for the Medina Community Design Committee. Organizer Nancy Mattey said in past years the event has drawn close to 250 people.

But organizer and Medina At-large Councilman Bill Lamb said he hopes the event also will give people a chance to see the inside of houses they have driven by for years as well as teach visitors about Medina history.

“I want to be able to demonstrate all the changes that occurred (in Medina),” he said.

Touring “is a tactile thing. You can see it and touch it,” he said.

CDC chose five houses built between 1834 and 1951 and three nonresidential sites — the FirstMerit Bank building on Public Square, the Medina Town Hall and Engine House Museum, also on Public Square, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 317 E. Liberty St.

Volunteers and owners at each house described the properties during a five-hour self-guided tour where visitors could drive house to house.

The 1834 Lathrop Seymour House, on North Broadway Street, is an example of Federal or Greek Revival, while the 1877 Munson House, on East Prospect Street, is a double-bracketed Italianate. The owner of the Sheldon Funk House, Paul Williams, has been renovating the Storybook style-home on North Jefferson Street since he purchased it from 42-year resident Jean Evans a year ago.

Lamb’s own house, at 721 S. Court St., was on the tour. His stepdaughter Gretchen Fri recalled moving into the house, built in 1883, from a newer house when she was 8 years old in the 1970s.

“We always thought this was the haunted house on the block. It was kind of scary,” she said.

Fri helped her mother and Lamb renovate the house, restoring the exterior, installing new drywall and polishing the floor.

“Once you move in, it becomes your home. It’s just your home,” she said.

Michele Nichols showed her and her husband’s home, which was built by the founder of Bennett Lumber and his wife Elizabeth in 1951. The 4,000-square-foot house sits on seven acres, making it one of the largest properties in the city of Medina, Nichols said. The land is home to more than 20 deer, which Nichols feeds twice a day.

Bret Galey toured Nichols’ house, at 800 S. Court St., after dropping off his daughter, a docent at Lamb’s house.

“You don’t get an opportunity to see some of the history of Medina, and a good way to do it is to open up some of the houses,” said Galey, a Medina resident.

Sisters-in-law Janice and Ronda Gerda, from Kent and Brunswick, respectively, said they keep coming back to the tour to see woodwork and Victorian architecture especially.

“It inspires you to go home and do your own house,” Janice said.

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