It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Harvey County.
Four local homes have been transformed into "winter wonderlands" with evergreen Christmas trees, sparkling decorations and twinkling lights. The sounds of flutes, violins and other instruments fill the air and add to the festive mood.
Community members can tour these four homes as part of the 45th annual Olson Holiday Home Tour, “Harmonies in Holiday Homes." The event, which benefits the Charles Olson Scholarship Fund, is at 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. The tours combine the holiday décor and hospitality of four area homeowners with music played by local musicians.
The Newton homes being featured on this year’s tour include: Rod and Anne Nicholson, 625 W. Eighth St., and John and Susan Wise, 1628 Hillcrest. In North Newton, two homes will be featured: the home of Bob and Donna Nattier, 3307 Woodside Dr., and the Goerz House at Bethel College, 2512 College Ave., home of Dr. Perry and Dalene White.
Dr. Erwin and Gertrude Olson established the Charles Olson Memorial Scholarship Foundation for Instrumental Music Lessons in memory of their son, Charles, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1968. Charles Olson was a devoted musician, playing the piano, saxophone and oboe, and he had expressed his wish that more students could have private instrumental music lessons. The holiday home tour is the main fund-raising event for the foundation.
Advance reservations are required and may be made at Prairie Harvest, 601 N. Main in Newton, for a suggested donation of $12.50 per person. All proceeds go toward scholarships for Newton High School instrumental students. Sponsors for the event are founders Dr. Erwin and Gertrude Olson, the Charles Olson Memorial Foundation, Newton Treble Clef Club, and participating merchants Prairie Harvest, Ruzen Flowers, Designs by John and North and South Dillons Floral Shops.
1. The Nicholsons, 625 W. Eighth St.
Rod and Anne Nicholson's house was built in 1956 by Claude and Skip Rhoades. After purchasing the home in 1998, the Nicholsons remodeled and redecorated, adding a great room, two baths and an ornate concrete fireplace. Other accents include stained glass and leaded glass windows.
For Christmas, the living and dining room are decorated in contemporary blue and silver, while the rest of the home features a more traditional theme, including three decorated trees and a Santa collection.
Music will be provided by a vocal trio, Melynne, Chandler and Susan Williams, accompanied by Brenda Rust.
2. The Wises, 1628 Hillcrest
John and Susan Wise are new to the Newton area. After they both worked as civilians for the Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Worth for more than 35 years, they decided to move to Newton to be closer to family.
They purchased the Hillcrest lot because of "the established trees and the lovely neighborhood," and construction began in June 2012. The main living space is an open concept with wood floors, and bedrooms are carpeted. They also set aside a special garden room for Susan’s houseplants. Their partially finished basement includes a tornado safe room and space for family get-togethers.
Music will be provided by the Bethel Jazz Combo: Joel Boettger, sax; Landon Bartell, bass; and Ian Gingrich-Gaylord, keyboard.
3. The Nattiers, 3307 Woodside Dr.
The Nattier home was built in 1999 and was one of the first houses built in the Campus Woods II addition. The floor plan is open with many large windows and three fireplaces. There are several arches in each room, and the house plan was selected so the lake could be seen from each of the living areas.
Donna enjoys decorating, and they said they try to make people "feel welcome and at home" during their stay. A nine-foot Christmas tree stands in front of the large arched window of the formal living room, and the basement rooms are decorated in a Safari theme with added Christmas décor and a tree with a children’s theme. The only collection in the home is nativities. One ceramic nativity was given to Donna by Bob early in their marriage. Another favorite is a large nativity in the living room that was given to them by their children.
Music in the afternoon will be provided by Neil Smucker, flute, and French exchange student Cecil Mauduit, voice. Music in the evening will be provided by violin duet Rachel Unruh and Leah Towle and by cellists Allie Chesbrough and Nicole Smith.
4. The Goerz House, 2512 College Ave.
The Goerz House is a Queen Anne style home designed by Elbert Dumont, a Wichita architect, and built by the Rev. David Goerz and his wife, Helene Riesen Goerz, in 1893. They arrived in Kansas from Russia in 1875, first living in Halstead before moving to North Newton. David Goerz was a co-founder of Bethel College, as well as its first business manager. Bethel College bought the house from the Goerz family in 1921 and has used it as a student residence, a faculty residence and a guest house.
In 1993, thanks to an initial gift from Frances Garrison, Rudolph Goerz’s daughter, Bethel began a thorough restoration of the house, restoring original woodwork, recreating the original floor plan and adding furniture and dishes that belonged to the Goerz family. Goerz House became the president’s residence and reception center when E. LaVerne Epp took office in 2002. The Goerz House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 31, 2002.
Afternoon hosts are Dr. Stephen and Sharon Cranston, and evening hosts are Eldean Harder and Elsie Flaming. Music in the afternoon will be provided by Karen Schlabaugh, historic pump organ, and music in the evening will be provided by Joan Wulf, also on the pump organ.