by Frances Edstrom
Today one of my favorite annual events is scheduled from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. The Winona County Historical Society's Candlelight Tour of Homes is one of those painless fund-raisers (well, the homeowners hurrying to decorate before tour-goers arrive may not think it is all that painless, but when the tour is over, they'll be all decorated for the coming holidays!).
It has a nice leisurely feel to it, driving from one home to the next, wondering what wonderful treat is in store. I like it because I'm not much of a shopper-arounder, and am usually the last to know about some new decorating option.
My friend Gloria Miller was telling us about a tree she decorated in WSU Warrior purple for the Winona Health Auxiliary Festival of Trees, and I was surprised to learn you could buy purple lights. And I guess if Habitat for Humanity is urging people to use blue lights, they must be available, too.
In addition to a great source for holiday decorating ideas, the homes on the tour are always interesting architecturally, as well. It's fun to see, for instance, the difference between the two homes on this year's tour that can both be called Spanish Revival, but built 50 years appart "” one in 1932 and one in 1982.
It's also fun to see homes that have already been on the tour, but have been substantially renovated or redecorated. Stu and Toni Swain, for instance, have made substantial changes to their home, which was on the tour several years ago.
On the other hand, it will be quite an eye-opener to see the way that LeRoy and Cindy Telstad have preserved and restored the original decorating in their lovely home. If there is no snow on the ground, we'll be able to see the garden that they built from original, but unexecuted, plans that they found in the house.
Also on the tour is a brand-new take on the Prairie style by Karl and Kari Sonneman in Treetops. And the newly restored 1870s Biesanz farm house that is serving now as a guest house for a new townhouse development, University Village, is a perfect example of how some of the county's oldest homes still live on.
An example of the grand old homes of Winona's lumber and rivertown heydays, owned by Dave Stoltman, is on the tour, as is the newest take on what it means to be a rivertown, a couple of boathouses owned by Don and Donnell Boyer.
Tickets are cheap, cheap, cheap "” $10, and available at the Historical Society's Armory Museum at 160 Johnson St. The museum gift shop is also going to be open (hint, hint), and there will be refreshments.
Say hello to your fellow Winonans on the tour who so graciously offer to open their homes, and also to the volunteers who will direct you through the homes.