Lawrence's second annual Holiday Tour of Historic Homes offers a Christmasy look inside five old homes in the Oread Neighborhood.
The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. next Sunday.
Homes on the tour are the Frederic D. Morse House, 1041 Tenn.; the brick Victorian house at 1045 Tenn.; the George and Annie Bell House, 1008 Ohio; Halcyon House Bed & Breakfast, 1000 Ohio; and the Frank & Nelle Benedict House, now undergoing extensive renovation, 923 Tenn.
After visiting the homes, tour guests may stop for refreshments at the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum, 1047 Mass., where several special exhibits will be on display.
Sponsors of the tour are the Douglas County Historical Society, Lawrence Preservation Alliance and Oread Neighborhood Assn.
Last year's tour, which featured seven Old West Lawrence homes, earned more than $13,000 in benefit funds, according to Burdett Loomis, an organizer of that event. The Old West Lawrence Historic Development Fund received $9,000, and the Save the Depot Fund received $4,500, he said.
FOR THIS YEAR'S tour, about 100 volunteers, primarily members of the sponsoring groups, will greet visitors and answer questions in the homes, according to Jennifer Kimball Brown, coordinator for the Oread Neighborhood Assn.
"We're really pleased Oread is hosting the homes tour this year," she said, "because we're proud of our neighborhood and we're glad to have people coming and enjoying it with us."
Gail Towle, co-owner of Halcyon House, said, "I think this will be a really special homes tour. All the houses are within a block's distance, so people can just walk, and most of the houses will have at least two designers in them."
She noted that the increased number of shops helping with decorations for the tour this year means guests will find more holiday decorating ideas to adapt to their own homes.
Participating in the decorating are The Bay Leaf, Patricia's Place, Stitch On Needlework, Uptown Gardens, Prairie Found Studio, Prairie Patches, Spectator's, The Flower Shoppe and Pence Garden Center.
THE OREAD neighborhood lies between downtown Lawrence and Kansas University and, according to the tour brochure, was an attractive site to members of the New England Emigrant Aid Society, the anti-slavery group that settled Lawrence in 1854.
After the destruction to Lawrence buildings caused by Quantrill's raid in 1863, the coming of the railroad in 1864 and the opening of KU in 1866, the Oread area experienced a building boom, becoming home to a diverse racial and ethnic mix of people that is reflected in its varied architecture.
Victorian-style homes are abundant there, and among the many fine examples is the Frederic D. Morse House, at 1041 Tenn. It will be decorated for the tour by The Bay Leaf, Patricia's Place and Stitch On Needlework.
Called the "Painted Lady," as many colorful Victorian homes were in their day, the house is owned by Marcia Epstein and Kyle Thompson, who recently nominated it for the National Register of Historic Places.
EPSTEIN PAINSTAKINGLY researched authentic Victorian paint colors, trying to learn how her home was painted in the late 1800s and what combinations of colors were appropriate with respect to the predominate lavender she selected.
"It's a wonderful house," she said, "and we feel lucky to live here."
Ann Yetman, an owner of The Bay Leaf, 725 Mass., said her shop's focus at the Morse House will be on the dining room, where they'll set the table with Waechtersbach, bright red Christmas china from Germany.
Pat Walton, owner of Patricia's Place, 737 Mass., said she plans Victorian-style decorations for an upstairs bedroom to complement the architecture of the home.
Leslie Ahlert, an owner of Stitch On Needlework, 926 Mass., said her shop will do the entryway, living room and kitchen. Evergreen swags and counted cross-stitch ornaments will bring Christmas to the entryway but decorations other than needlework will be featured in the other two rooms.
AHLERT SAID the living room's Christmas tree will show off a variety of ornaments, and under it, a miniature city of Snow Village houses will appear. Collectible Santas in various styles and sizes and a display of holiday gift bags also will be featured.
In the kitchen, a miniature tree will sport tiny ornaments, and decorative tins and a collection of ceramic accessory pieces will be showcased.
In all three rooms, Ahlert added, flickering candles and simmering potpourri will carry the scents of Christmas to tour guests.
Next door south, at 1045 Tenn., stands Eric and Susan Cleveland's brick home, built in 1899 by Thomas J. Collins.
"The main thing is it's been a complete renovation," Susan Cleveland said, noting the home might best be described as a "working man's Victorian" because it does not feature the ornate detailing characteristic of many homes of that style.
PAM CARVALHO of Prairie Found Studio in Baldwin, who will do decorations there, said she'll "keep things simple" in accordance with her tastes and the Clevelands'.
"We're planning a simply magnificent wreath for the front door," she said, noting they're trying to pick between a completely dried creation or an evergreen piece with pomegranates, lemons, oranges and limes. The Clevelands will feature their own decorations inside the house.
Around the block at 1008 Ohio, Marci Francisco makes her home in the oldest house on the tour. This stone structure, owned by Francisco's parents, Dr. and Mrs. W. David Francisco of Kansas City, was built in 1863.
George and Annie Bell and their children were living there when Quantrill's raiders attacked the city. Bell was killed and the house set on fire, but Mrs. Bell and her six children saved the home and continued to live in its cellar while renting out the two upstairs floors until the turn of the century.
THE FRANCISCOS did extensive renovation work and had the house listed on the National Register of Historic Places after buying it in 1982.
Uptown Gardens, 1341 Mass., is in charge of decorations there, and according to one of the owners, Jennifer Baur, "It'll be a naturalist's kind of Christmas with dried flowers, baskets and bird feeders."
Halcyon House, at 1000 Ohio, was built in the 1880s and became known as "Pooh Corner" in the 1960s because of a Winnie-the-Pooh mural painted on an interior wall.
Laurie Culling and Phil Bohlander saved it from demolition in 1980, renovated and sold the home to Towle and her partner, Esther Wolfe, who turned it into Lawrence's first and only bed and breakfast.
Prairie Patches and Spectator's will provide holiday decorations there.
Cinda Garrison, owner of Prairie Patches, said she'll start with a North Woods Santa banner, garlands and paper ribbons on the front door.
In the living room, a "Prairie Patches" Christmas, in carnation and plumberry colors, will showcase custom-made ornaments from the shop, and in the kitchen, Christmas decorations will feature a Southwest theme.
IN TWO BEDROOMS, Prairie Patches will create a "Kansas Christmas," with sunflowers, wheat weavings, Lawrence and KU ornaments and Kansas gift baskets, and a "sorority girl's Christmas" in recognition of the ties many Halcyon House guests have with KU.
Kathy Swanson, manager of Spectator's, 710 Mass., said she's not doing any decorating at Halcyon House, but rather she's "filling the rooms with clothes to enjoy life in around the holidays."
At the Benedict House, 923 Tenn., a Queen Anne built in 1870 and known to many as The Enchanted Cottage, tour guests will be able to walk through part of the home, where extensive renovation work is now under way.
The house, on the Register of Historic Kansas Places, was saved from demolition by the Lawrence Preservation Alliance two years ago and is being turned into a duplex by architect and contractor Dan Rockhill.
FOR THE TOUR, Watkins Museum, also on the National Register of Historic Places, is being decorated by the Flower Shoppe and museum volunteers.
Jan Pence, owner of The Flower Shoppe, said she plans a very traditional approach, to work in concert with reception foods being done by S.C. Pomeroy's and the special exhibits.
Judy Sweets of the museum staff said two Christmas trees and the staircase have been decorated by museum volunteers Marge Ragle and Joel and Nancy Fritzel, and other volunteers will be providing poinsettas for the tour dates.
Pence Garden Center also is providing 30 poinsettas, which will be divided up between the museum and all the tour homes.
The three museum exhibits on display are "Builders, Architects and Artisans of Lawrence;" a Doll Show, with dolls furnished and displayed by Lawrence Doll Collectors Club, and "Clues in the Calico," a historic quilt show featuring Barbara Brackman's quilts.
Brackman will lead an informal tour of the quilt exhibit at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and continuous tours of Watkins' sub-attic and attic, not usually open to the public, will be conducted throughout the two-day event.
Tickets, $7.50 in advance or $10 at the door, are available at shops decorating the homes, Halcyon House and the community museum, as well as Art Frames, Dillons stores, Eldridge Hotel, Second Chance and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.