Some 10 years ago, two Blue Springs homeowners decided to decorate their homes for Christmas, charge a small touring fee and donate the proceeds to the Blue Springs Historical Society.
Little did the homeowners know this insignificant holiday event – which raised a total of $258 – would evolve into an annual fundraiser for the Historical Society, founded in 1976 as a non-profit organization.
Relying solely on public donations, the Historical Society will use proceeds from its upcoming Christmas Homes Tour for its three historical sites: the Dillingham-Lewis Museum, the 1926 Chicago and Alton Depot and the Chicago and Alton Hotel.
“This is one of our major fundraisers,” says Mary Potter, who is serving her fourth term as president of the society, whose mission, she says, is “to educate people about the history of Blue Springs and the importance of keeping it.”
The Nov. 23 and 24 Homes Tour is important, Mary says, because the society needs the financial support of the community.
“I don’t think people realize how much it costs a month to keep (the Dillingham-Lewis Museum) open,” she says, adding: “(It’s) a thousand dollars a month just for utilities – not (for) maintenance.”
Mary hopes ticket sales for the tour will net the society at least $2,000 to $3,000. “That would be good,” she says, noting proceeds have never reached “the actual needs of the society.”
“Edwardian Magic” is the theme of this year’s tour, featuring two sites in each of the following communities: Blue Springs, Grain Valley and Independence.
The fundraiser begins Nov. 23 with a Candlelight Tour from 5 to 9 p.m., and continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 24. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at any of the homes the day of the tour. Tickets are available at the following locations:
The Yellow Strawberry, Hattey’s on Main, Petals & Potpourri, Ben’s Lawn and Garden, Soda Fountain on Main, Special Events, St. Mary’s Gift Shop and the Dillingham-Lewis Museum on Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
Mary selected the Edwardian theme, she says, because her home was built in that time period, which allows homeowners to do whatever they want to do with that (Edwardian) name.
There are a variety of homes in this year’s tour. But none are what one would call historic.
“You have to remember that Order No. 11 was issued in 1863 and most of our homes (in Blue Springs) were destroyed,” says the retired teacher. “This year, we really don’t have an old home on tour, except for the 1906 Dillingham-Lewis Museum” housing the Blue Springs Historical Society. Hot-spiced cider and snack food will be served at the Museum, where “local decorators will create ‘Edwardian Magic’ with jewel tones that will set the mood for a magical Christmas.”
The other Blue Springs site is the early American home of Martha DeNise, who no longer lives at the 1605 S.W. Walnut St. address. Local crafters will be selling Christmas items from the dwelling, which Mary says is one of the “oldest little houses” in the city.
Page 2 of 2 - Says Mary: “(The crafters) are totally separate from us, but we were able to tie in with them to bring people through (the house) and sell our depot merchandise.”
Having at least one or two “Old Town” homes on the tour each year is the Historical Society’s goal, in addition to having at least one home with “just everything imaginable.” And this year there are two such houses – the Clark-Halsey Home, 5401 Phelps Road, and the Martin Home, 310 Saddle Ridge Court, both in Independence.
The Clark-Halsey Home – with its 15 Christmas trees – has been professionally decorated with garland, flowers, tinsel and wreaths. And the Tuscan Estate – with its own theater and elevator – “will be over-the-top decorated,” Mary says.
The elegant and spacious Martin Home, with a magnificent scenic view from the patio, also has been professionally decorated. Adding to the ambiance are numerous sculptures, a tapestry and rug from the family’s many travels.
In Grain Valley, visitors will tour the Mudd Home, 7809 S. Arnett Road, and the Pogue Home, 1107 N.W. Burr Oak Lane.
A large paper mache snowman holding a special birthday present for the One being honored greets visitors to the Mudd Home, where such vintage finds as Santas, toys and a large stuffed bear adds to the festive home.
Decorated in elegant country – with stars, garland and candles – the Pogue Home features a beautiful Christmas tree trimmed in orange, white and gold decor. Santa will greet visitors downstairs.
For more information about the tour or the society, call Mary at 816-797-4870.