2015 Holiday Traditions Tour

2015 – 41st Annual

The 41st Holiday Traditions tour was held December 5 from 11am to 5pm and December 6 from 1pm to 5pm. This year’s tour featured 4 historical homes and one contemporary home. Also included on the tour was the Grand Ledge Opera House, which was filled with beautifully decorated trees, holiday tables and miniatures. Other stops on the tour included the Grand Ledge Museum, Immanuel Lutheran Church and Sanctuary Spirits.

Grand Ledge Opera House, 121 S. Bridge St., 1884
The Opera House has had several reincarnations since it was built in 1884. Its first purpose was as a roller-skating rink. In 1886, owner Peter Blake, owner of Eaton County Cheese, decided to convert it to an Opera House. Later it was used to show silent films. In 1928 it became the Stephens Furniture Store and later home to Mapes Furniture. In 1976, dubbed Heritage Hall, it was home to the Bicentennial Headquarters. In 1984 the Mapes family donated the building to the Grand Ledge Area Historical Society (GLAHS) to house its growing historical collection. The GLAHS and the Chamber of Commerce spearheaded fund-raising effort to return it to its former glory. Today, the Opera House is owned and operated by the Opera House Authority and used for performances, local programs and weddings. Once a year, the Opera House is transformed into a magical place of Holiday trees, beautifully decorated tables and charming miniature exhibits. Also, this year there was a gently used art auction in the second floor Blake Room.

306 Front Street, John and Sheila Deming, 1909, Homestead

This style of house, if it were built in the country, would have been known as a simple vernacular farmhouse. In the early 1900’s this type of house was increasingly built in the city and became known as a Homestead House. The house is a two-story structure with a wide front porch spanning the width of the house and has a rear deck looking over the Grand River.  The living room featured a grand piano which was a gift to Sheila’s mother on her graduation from high school in 1945 and host and hostess chairs dating back to approximately 1850 that belonged to John’s great-great grandmother. There are built-in cupboards with beveled glass in the dining room and the dining room chairs are from the Grand Ledge Chair Company.

200 N. Clinton Street, Nancy Pennell, 1920s

This house sits on what was once known as the Harrison Hulbert property.  After Mr. Hulbert’s death in 1895, the property was subdivided for homes.  One of these homes was a charming craftsman built in the 1920s for Anthony and Matilda Newman.  The Newmans, who were later joined in the house by their daughter and son-in-law, Lina and Howard Trowbridge, occupied the house for over thirty years.  In the early 1960s the house was purchased by the Bradshaws who lived in the house until the mid-1990s.  Since that time, the house was purchased and sold several times before becoming the home of Nancy Pennell.  Nancy purchased the house in August 2014 and has since added a garage, a large back deck and rails to the front porch.  Nancy, who also sells refurnished furniture in the Painted Teal, has refinished most of the furniture in her house and added many of her own touches. This house is a small gem not to be missed.

31 Ferguson, Larry and Cheryl Butkus, 1980s

Larry and Cheryl live in the house with their sons Jeff, a senior at Grand Ledge High School, Ryan, a freshman at Lansing Catholic and their 3 dogs.  The house was built in the late 1980’s by Tom Dible for his own family to live in.  Tom and his family resided in the house until the early 2000s when it was purchased by Jim Roberts, owner of True Value Hardware, before being purchased in 2011 by the Butkus family.  The house situated on a curve of the Grand River has a sweeping back yard, with large windows to view the river from nearly every room.  The showpiece in the entry foyer is a wall with a center octagonal mirror with wood radiating out like the spokes of the sun.  The house includes many built in shelves that display the gorgeous glass pieces and art belonging to the family.  Also, don’t miss the Tiffany style MSU light situated over the pool table in the lower level family room.

413 West Jefferson Street, Sandy Kallen, 1890s, Kallen-Boice Home

This charming cottage, also known as the Dixon – Bunday – Bliss home, built in the 1890s, was part of the “Riverside Addition” to the Village of Grand Ledge. This is a very eclectic house, decorated with pieces that Sandy Kallen has collected through the years and re-purposed into other things. She also has many great family pictures and artifacts.  A feature not to be missed was the arbor by the back entrance.  The dining table was set for Christmas.

118 West Lincoln Street, Pratt-Shearer Cottage, 1880

This house, also known as the Pratt – Shearer cottage, was built in 1880 by Byron S. Pratt, a local minister.  It was purchased in the 1940s by Mary Shearer who sold it to the United Methodist Church who granted a life lease to Ms. Shearer.  In 1984 it was donated by the Church for use as a museum.  The house with its high-pitched roof and tall gables is a classic example of Gothic architecture popular in Grand Ledge during the 1870s. This year’s exhibit “From Farm to Table” was on display until through December 13, when it was replaced by “All Things Victorian”.

418 Taylor Street, Scott and Faye Phillips, 1910 Modified Eastlake

This house is a 1910 Modified Eastlake built by Hiram Cole.  It was known as the Roy and Theresa Doty house for many years as they lived there from 1914 to 1959.  GLAHS President Ann Lawrence purchased the home in 1970 and lived there until 2014, when it was purchased by Scott and Faye Phillips.  The Phillips’ have done major renovation work to the house.  They have doubled the size of the kitchen and enclosed the screened porch to make a cozy family room.  The holiday tree is in the living room at the front of the house.  Fay, who used to decorate the tree in the McKinley house in Canton, Ohio, likes to make changes to her tree every year.  The former den is now a solarium with white wicker furniture.  Faye has many plants in this room including a 100-year-old Christmas cactus. Her dining room features 6 Hitchcock chairs, all with different scenes. The handcrafted table in the kitchen is made of barn wood.

517 South Clinton Street, Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1951

The church was organized in 1871. The first small white church was constructed on the site of Greenwood School in 1872. The lot site for the present church was purchased in 1950 and the present modified Gothic structure was dedicated in 1951. The Church displayed sanctuary and historic memorabilia in the narthex. The church was decorated for the Advent Season with the display progressing as Christmas nears.

902 East Saginaw, Sanctuary Spirits/the Red Salamander, 1953

This business was built in 1953 to house the Seventh Day Adventist Church. After the church outgrew the building and moved to the west side of Grand Ledge, the building was adapted for re-use. The building sells equipment for making your own wine or beer as well as producing beer, wine and spirits. You can stop by for a tour and tasting.