MEDINA — The charm of five homes spread across Medina’s historic neighborhoods were highlighted Sunday afternoon during the annual Medina Community Design Committee Holiday Home Tour.
It was a time for homeowners to open their doors and show attendees how century-old homes continue to serve as showstoppers in the community.
Featured homes ranged in age from an 1860 Victorian Italianate home built by Old Phoenix National Bank President H.G. Blake in the city’s Bankers Row Historic Neighborhood to a 1929 Sears Roebuck and Co. home in Medina’s Water Tower Neighborhood.
“If you think about it, (Blake) was obviously still alive when he built them so he was probably having a conversation, just like you and I are today, at the front door,” homeowner Chet Simmons said to tourgoers from the front porch of his 1860 home at 431 W. Washington St.
Once inside, visitors were greeted by the couple’s daughter Quinn Behler, who explained some of the home’s history and the antiques adorning the walls near the foyer.
“It was built for (Blake’s) daughter Helen and her husband, O.H. McDowell, it is referred to as a sister home as he also built an identical home next door for his daughter Elizabeth and her husband, R.M. McDowell, so the daughters both married brothers,” Behler said.
Decorative touches included antique Christmas decor collected by Simmons’s wife Jan, to cabinetry and furniture that has been passed down through generations of the couples’ families.
Over in the Founders Way North Neighborhood, Feeding Medina County Director Sandy Hinkle spoke with visitors about the style of her 1905 Farmhouse home at 301 E. Friendship St.
“I have done a lot to change it and done a lot to keep it the way it was,” Hinkle said. “I like the character of the house.”
Hinkle said she purchased the home in 2012 after deciding to relocate back to Medina after working for Penn State University.
“All my kids and grandkids are here, I wanted to move back,” Hinkle said. “I just wanted to be close to them, so I thought, ‘well I’ll look for a house.’ ”
Hinkle said that she decided to purchase the home after losing out on a few other possibilities, and wasn’t dismayed by its initially rough appearance.
“It was a very ugly house, very ugly,” she said. “A lot of things were wrong with it, but I liked the fact that I was close to town and all my kids being here so I looked at it through different eyes, with what it could be.”
One tour participant said she spent some fond but fleeting time in Hinkle’s home as a child, as it was where her grandparents lived during the 1960s.
“I was like 3 years old when they lived here, so I don’t have a whole lot of memories of what the house looked like,” Dolly Yowler of Medina said.
Yowler said the things she remembers the most from the home are its breakfast nook with dark wood walls and the shiny hardwood floors.
“I can tell you what I can remember the most is that little breakfast nook,” she said of the small space adjoining the home’s kitchen. “When I think of this house I think of that breakfast nook.”
Susan Russell said she just moved into her 1929 Sears and Roebuck Co. cottage at 217 W. Homestead St. a few months ago, but has lived in Medina for most of her life.
Visitors to the home were welcomed by its original dark wood molding and the smell of a wood-burning fire still in the air.
“I love the old-fashioned decorating,” Russell said. “That is why I choose not to put lights on my tree and used popcorn and cranberries that I strung.”
“My granddaughter helped me with some of that,” Russell added.
Russell said she has attended the Holiday Home Tour in the past, and always wanted to own a home that would qualify for the tour. Soon after purchasing the home, her friend and CDC Vice Chairman Nancy Mattey encouraged her to participate this year.
Each of the city’s five historic neighborhoods were represented in the tour this year, a move meant to bring attention to Medina’s history beyond the town square.
“We’re really focused on the neighborhoods,” CDC chairwoman Michele Nichols previously said. “The square is beautiful. Some of the neighborhoods need help. There are some beautiful homes in these neighborhoods. Some of them just need some TLC.”
Proceeds from the tour will go toward the Town Hall and Engine House Museum, Nichols said, and to purchase some of the giant flower pots around the city. The committee has been giving some of the neighborhood associations a boost to get started.
Other stops on the tour:
- The second house in the south end is a Victorian that was built in 1887 and is located at 522 S. Broadway St. It is the original childhood home of local historian Bob Hyde.
- South Court Street was well-represented on the holiday tour. The first home was at 614 S. Court St., a restored vernacular farmhouse built during the Civil War in 1863. The original woodwork, Victorian parlor and garden room are unique features of this restored home.
- The Town Hall and Engine House Museum, 50 Public Square. In 1967, this was the first building to be renovated by the Community Design Committee. The second floor of this building is undergoing final renovations for it to become a community room and the committee’s office.
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 317 E. Liberty St.