The Fox house at N2583 East Shore Drive, built in 1970, was part of the last Heritage Homes tour in 2011.
One of the most eagerly anticipated events sponsored by the Merrill Historical Society - and one of our major fundraisers - is the Heritage Homes Tour. The Society has regularly held these tours since the 1990s and was planning to have one this year.
We have an enthusiastic tour committee that is eager to proceed with preparations. We have a date set. What we don't have is homes. We have not yet been able to locate homeowners who are willing to share their homes.
Perhaps a misunderstanding of the tour and its requirements is playing a part in this. Here are some thoughts about what the committee is looking for.
? We look for homes in any traditional style: Mission, Cape Cod, saltbox, Sears "kit" home, Colonial Revival, modernistic, contemporary folk style (A-frame), etc. "Victorian" is definitely not the only style we're interested in. It would be great to have an entire tour dedicated to homes built in the 1930s or the 1950s or the 2010s.
? Newer homes definitely have a place on the tour. They may be designed in a traditional style. They may be representative of their own era; history didn't stop with a particular date, after all.
? Smaller homes have usually been included in the tour; we don't limit to very "grand" homes. These smaller architectural gems frequently rival the larger homes in terms of beautiful woodwork or creative architectural features or interesting stories associated with former owners.
? Former business buildings that have been repurposed into homes could be a very interesting addition to the tour.
? Perfectly maintained or renovated homes are not what we seek. Tour homes reflect the fact that most homes are constantly evolving, are never truly "finished." People who tour enjoy talking about plans for the future of homes and seeing a "work in progress." A few years later we may be able to return and appreciate the way in which homeowners have accomplished their dream; it's inspirational to others. I will admit that most homeowners do spend time cleaning and perhaps finishing up a project or two on which they've been procrastinating, but it's not a requirement.
? We all love our cushy recliners and our big TV screens. Heritage Homes should be comfortable too! We aren't looking for period-perfect or professionally decorated homes. This isn't Victorian Homes or Architectural Digest.
Homes of any age or style that are filled with interesting collections are certainly worthy of inclusion in the tour. You may recall a recent tour in which the homeowners had dozens of teapots on display; what fun!
Homeowners may be as involved as they want on the day of the tour. If you're a "hands on" type, it's interesting and fun to talk with people as they tour. You may actually learn something from a visitor about the history of your home (or about families that previously lived there) that you didn't know. Or, you may turn the tour over to the tour committee and spend the day doing whatever you enjoy.
Security may be a concern, though we have never had a problem with this issue. The committee members work with you to carefully review the traffic flow in your home and schedule plenty of tour guides. There may be a certain room or area of your home that should be "off limits." We have found that people very much appreciate the opportunity to take the tour and they will respect those limits.
Homes do not have to be within city limits. In the past we have included homes that are as much as five or six miles out of town.
My husband and I have had two homes - one old and one newer - on previous tours. Both times we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would do it again. But there are just so many other beautiful homes in the Merrill area that have never been included in a tour.
Please help the Historical Society continue the Heritage Homes tradition. It is one of the most appealing and effective means of sharing the history of our community. If you are willing to have your home on the tour, or if you can suggest a home that you think would be a good addition to the tour, call the Historical Society office, 715-536-5652. It takes time to make all of the necessary arrangements, so we would appreciate hearing from you by March 21.
P.S. In-kind tax credit is available to homeowners who participate in the tour.