Marion prepares for 17th Christmas Home Tour Dec. 3

his unique hearth is decorated for the season at the home of Kathy Biswell at 325 Elm Street in Marion.Now in its 17th year, the Christmas Home Tour, sponsored by Marion City Library, is one of the most anticipated events during the holiday season.

Janet Marler, library director, said the tours are from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, with $5 tickets available at the library, 101 Library St., or at the featured homes.

“It amazes me that every year we have such unique and beautiful home,” Marler said, “and fortunate that people are willing to do so much work for the library.”

The first home tour was in 2000, she said, as a way to raise money for the renovation of the depot, and each year since then, its popularity has continued.

Attendance varies, Marler said, but a normal year averages about 300 or more people taking the tour.

“Our theme this year is ‘A Novel Christmas,’ and we are decorating our tree with pages from old novels and making them into ornaments,” she said.

In addition to the library’s tree, novels are going to be displayed, she said, with pages folded into words and shapes.

“Should be fun to see what can be done with old books,” Marler added.

This year’s homeowners include Kathy Biswell at 325 Elm; Doug and Lori Heerey, 174 Eastmoor Drive; Max and Barbara Jackson, 301 S. Thorp and Rodney and Diane Richmond, 2049 Sunflower.

Following the tour, refreshments will be served the library, Marler said.

“Collective Goods,” formerly, “Books are Fun,” will have a display of items and books available for sale.

The following are brief descriptions of what visitors will see when they go on this year’s tour:

Meeting people is fun part

For Kathy Biswell, the best part about participating in the home tour is meeting the people.

It’s also not the first time she has had a home tour, either.

“I’ve done a couple of tours in Manhattan and three (tours) in Potwin in a big Victorian area,” she said.

Prior to moving to Marion, Biswell said she lived in Topeka, but decided to move so she was closer to her daughter and grandchildren.

Biswell said she likes to move about every five years, but the move to Marion was a harder move than the others.

“This is the last time I am moving,” she said.

And, she said she has a lot of things throughout her house that have been recycled and reused.

“I want (visitors) to see decorations and say: ‘Oh, I didn’t know I could do that with that,’” she said.

Biswell said she also enjoys making furniture and can do some electrical and plumbing.

One piece of furniture she said she thinks is beautiful is her yardstick table.

“It is colorful, and the yardsticks are from different businesses, states, counties and towns—just a fun project,” she said.

While Biswell said she enjoys her variety of projects, that’s not her career.

“I am a hair stylist in Manhattan,” she said, “and I love it because I want to make people look good.”

She also said she has a lot of antique ornaments from the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

The brand, Shiny-Brite, is featured on one of many Christmas trees in her home.

In total, she said she has three decorated trees downstairs and two upstairs, but she hasn’t even put out all her decorations.

“Everybody likes to look at someone else’s house, and I think that’s fun,” she said.

Dairy farm transformed

Doug and Lori Heerey’s home was originally a dairy farm built in the 1930s, and sat on the west side of the Marion Country Club.

“It was moved in the 1970s to its present location by Dennis and Janis Maggard,” Lori Heerey said.

“The hardwood floors on the main floor are original, as well as the numerous lathe and plaster walls,” she added.

One of the Heerey’s favorite features, she said, is the front porch, which is always seasonally decorated.

“Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph are there to greet visitors,” Lori Heerey said.

The furnishings and the decorations in the home are eclectic.

“There are antique items in the entry and dining areas, and traditional items throughout the first and second floors,” she said. “The dining room table was Doug’s grandparents on the Heerey side from the early 1900s, and will be set with Christmas dishes for our meal on Christmas Eve.”

The basement is mid-century modern, complete with orange velvet chairs and an aluminum Christmas tree.

“The tree,” she said, “is decorated with a handful of Christmas ornaments from both my parents and Doug’s parents that hung on our trees in the 1960s.”

Adding to that, she said, a vintage Coca Cola Santa Claus is on display, which was given to our son, Adam, by Sue Hassinger.

Additional items of interest include a table setting of mid-century modern atomic amoeba glassware, she said.

“We also have an original painting of the Morning Star school house by Irene Smith,” she said, “which was given to Lori’s late father Jerry Hett, that is hanging in the hallway.”

The Heereys have so many decorations and they both look forward to welcoming visitors on the tour.


For Max and Barbara Jackson, their theme is eclectic.

“We are marrying both of our personalities with decorations in this home,” she said.

“Max grew up here in Marion, so there are a lot of memories he has,” Barbara Jackson said.

In addition, his mother taught in Marion for many years, she said, and there will be a lot of that and a lot of her life woven into the decorations.

“We are blending the memories with pictures, some mantle-type pieces, a few historical pieces and references to his mom’s teaching career,” she said.

“When I say eclectic, it’s a little bit of everything.”

Being a jazz vocalist, Barbara Jackson said some of their decorations will be related to that and her history in music.

“Max will be in some of those because we’ve done some work here in Marion in music,” she said.

One of the reasons the Jacksons said they were selected was not necessarily because of how they decorated the house.

“Two and one-half years ago we purchased this house, and Barbara completely redid the downstairs, added a room to expand the kitchen, and put new decks on the front and back of the house,” Max Jackson said.

In addition, he said, she organized extensive landscaping and put in a new yard, and that’s the reason they said they were selected.

“We did it together, but Barbara was the primary person who organized it,” he said.

Max Jackson said he is a retired family practitioner who was in Kansas City.

Barbara (Baxter) Jackson retired as a manager at Xerox, working in four different states, and is now a professional jazz vocalist, performing under the name of Barbara Baxter, he said.

Living in a barn

Rodney and Diane Richmond live about two miles outside of Marion. Their theme has more of a rustic theme, Diane said, using burlap to decorate trees and wreaths.

“We have wooden trees, burlap trees, and our tree downstairs is all the girls old ornaments they made in grade school, Girl Scouts or at church,”

The building is a barn with the front having an extension out, and that is the family’s house part, she said.

“The house is actually a barn,” she said. “The barn is new and made a section in the front that is our house.”

One of the Christmas trees is 9 feet tall. This is only the second year the family has decorated for the holidays.

Probably the most favorite part of decorating, Diane Richmond said, was having her daughters help her with the work during the Thanksgiving vacation.

Visitors can expect to see a “Country Christmas,” she added.

All proceeds from the Christmas Home Tour is used for children’s programs and library events.

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