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'Everyone likes a neat old house'

Five residences opened for annual housewalk

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 5:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 7:58 a.m. CDT

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For many, the oldest house on the Home for the Holidays Christmas Housewalk was the favorite.

"This was our last one and we saved the best for last," said Beth Black of Morris to Penny Olson-Langland, owner of 219 W. North Street, one of the five houses on Friday's housewalk.

"Everyone likes a neat old house," replied Langland about her home that was built in 1880.

The housewalk is an annual tradition as part of the Home for the Holidays events held the weekend after Thanksgiving. For $15, participants are welcomed into five Morris homes to see the holiday decorations inside the residences. A complimentary tea is also offered at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

The proceeds of the walk go to Grundy Community Volunteer Hospice, Morris Downtown Beautification and to scholarships for Morris Community High School and Grundy Area Vocational Center seniors.

Langland's home was designated as the first on the housewalk, since it was located in downtown Morris, but participants were able to visit the homes in any order they wanted.

The Langlands are the sixth family to live in the home and they've lived there for 11 months, said Langland. The history of the home is what attracted the family, she said.

As guests entered the wrap-around porch, they immediately noticed the candy cane theme. Once inside, they were directed up the wood staircase to the master bathroom, which was decorated in silver and white, including a filled bath tub with floating silver glitter ornaments. Real ice skates accented with greenery hung on the wall.

In each bedroom, breakfast trays laid on the beds with holiday tea sets and Christmas decor such as a behind-the-scenes book on the famous holiday movie, "It's a Wonderful Life."

The third bedroom, a daughter's, lead into the library, which was once the servant's quarters. The now-library and adjoining office that was once the servant's bedroom displayed a collection of Santa- and snowmen-shaped candles.

The tour ended in the main dining room, where a tall tree filled with red, green and gold ornaments, ribbon and garland dominated your attention. The tree matched the dining room table trimmings, which were completed with a vase full of ornaments in matching colors.

"We've done (the walk) before, when we used to live down the street. We've been involved in hospice for 20 years, so we're happy to support (Grundy hospice)," said Langland.

The third house on the walk was Alan and Chandra Thorson's home at 1050 Wooded Crest Drive. The family's love for Mickey and Minnie Mouse were visible throughout the house, from figurines to Disney-themed Christmas trees in their two daughters' rooms.

In the "bonus room," which is used as a playroom and office, a Morris Redskins tree is displayed in honor of Morris High School's Coach Alan Thorson's favorite team. Redskin ornaments, as well as little footballs and a "Coach Thorson" ornament, decorated the tree.

"I personally like the treatments of the ceiling above the lights. It's really neat," said housewalk volunteer Gail Heck to the guests touring the room.

In almost every room, a different shape was cut out of the ceiling above the light fixtures.

The fifth house on the walk is owned by Ginny Bellamy at 1702 E. Anne Lane. The ranch home featured many of Bellamy's collections and family heirlooms, which is why she was asked to participate in the walk.

"I thought, 'I love what I collect and I have a lot, and it's for a really good cause,'" said Bellamy on Monday.

Bellamy had her daughter-in-law visit for two days to help her decorate and go through all of her ornaments, she said.

"It was kind of a neat process. It was more enjoyable the more I went on with it. I'm still enjoying it," said Bellamy.

One of the first things walkers noticed was the handmade makeshift fireplace. Bellamy had always wanted a fireplace, so she and her husband made something to look like one, explained Judy Stemen, housewalk volunteer. A ledge was hung on the wall like a mantel above a screen lit up by flameless candles to give a fire ambiance.

The master bedroom had a blue and white theme that the decorations followed as well, including a small tree filled with white, handmade yarn ornaments, and snowmen figurines.

Outside of the bedroom was a doll-size general store Bellamy made in honor of the 100th anniversary of the J.C. Penny company, which Bellamy had worked for. Inside the store was a dress department, as well as others filled with tiny handmade furniture and clothing. Bellamy won a blue ribbon at the Grundy County Corn Festival for the project.

Bellamy's kitchen showed off her extensive aluminum collection, from miniature measuring cups to juicers. Her kitchen table displayed blue and gold Christmas dishes from 1968, with a gold angel centerpiece.

"I liked all her little knickknacks," said Emily Hercreg of Ohio, who attended the housewalk with her grandmother, Pat Gallagher of Morris.

Lori Carlson and Patti Nowman's home at 1647 Stoney Brooke Lane and Jason and Heather Moore of 1075 Wooded Crest Drive also participated in the Home for the Holidays Christmas Housewalk.

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