ABILENE — Homes that range from the relentlessly practical to the how-wealthy-am-I ornate are featured in the 2019 Homes for the Holidays tour which will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7, and 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 8.
What unifies the homes is that they all illustrate ways homeowners find to live a modern life in houses built in a different era.
The Gothic style home at 615 NW Third, now owned by William and Marlene Howe, was built in 1879 by one of Abilene’s earliest magnates, Alfred W. Rice. A mayor of Abilene, Rice was a land speculator, banker, rancher, and owner of lumber and flour milling businesses. He spent a considerable amount of his profits on parquet living room floors and intricately carved woodwork throughout the house.
Another Abilene magnate, Cleyson Brown, built the home at 805 Spruceway, which today is owned by Ryan and Julie (Roller) Weeks.
Brown, who a century ago parlayed his local telephone franchise into a utility empire that went on to become Sprint, built this and several nearby houses in a distinctive Southwest style for employees of his telephone company.
Another home on this year’s tour and just a short distance away at 107 NW 10th also has a connection to Brown. Today it is owned by Toastie Racy, but in 1929 — about 13 years after the home was built by Hiram Akers, a real estate broker — Brown bought the house, presumably for a company employee.
By the time most houses are 60 years old, they have seen several different owners, but the property at 3125 N. Hawk has been in the Hoover family since 1880. The original home burned down 1938; the rebuilt home is owned today by Justin and Kylie (Hoover) Hicken. The Hickens, who operate Wizard of Odz and Ends, a home remodeling business, have built a product showroom in a barn they salvaged after it was destroyed by wind two years ago.
Rounding out the tour is an AirBnB in the upstairs of 308 N. Broadway, owned by David and Jonee Crump. In 1905, the downstairs hosted a bakery.
Refreshments this year will be served at First Christian Church, 612 N. Buckeye.
Tickets for the tour cost $10 and will be available at the Abilene Visitor Center, 201 NW Second, and West’s Country Mart, 1900 N. Buckeye.
For more information, contact the Abilene CVB at 263-2231 or 1-800-569-5915.