OTTUMWA — Saturday’s Around Town Downtown Holiday Home Tour, organized by Laureate Guild and Main Street Ottumwa, gave residents the chance to get into the Christmas spirit.

The Schiller home was warm with the fireplace on and the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg all around. For many it was appealing to their senses, but it was the decorum that captured attendees’ attention. It featured the 39-year collection of heirlooms featuring family quilts, a vintage Santa collection, nativity scenes and antique Christmas postcards.

The walls were adorned with purple hearts and other awards for military service, while also displaying a Christian theme, one artwork printed with the lyric “God shed His grace on thee” from America the Beautiful and another paying admiration to Jesus Christ.

Ruth Patritto, a greeter at the Schiller home and Laureate Guild member, was touched by the Gold Star tree and equally touched by the presence of people.

“I’m a people-person,” she said. “I like to be at the door and I get to see everybody that comes in,” she said. “It’s fun to see people coming out and enjoying the homes.”

Sharon Mier was one of many who expressed positive comments. She has been attending the holiday home tour for many years, choosing to come back because she is a Christmas enthusiast and it helped mark the beginning of the Christmas season. She couldn’t stop raving over Lisa Morgan’s home.

“I love the trees,” Mier said. “I love the decorations. I just love the spirit. You have the Christmas all around it,” she said. “You don’t have the cluttered. You have this flow; it’s just nice and [there’s] simplicity and it’s Christmasy.”

Morgan was flattered by the many comments similar to Mier’s. Many thought Morgan participated in the home tour before when it was actually her first time hosting.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” she said with a smile. “I enjoy decorating for Christmas, and it’s a good fundraiser for Mainstreet Ottumwa.”

“I have loved it and everyone loves it and enjoyed going to the house,” she added. “A lot of people in the town have loved that house for years and a lot of people have always wanted to go through it. So I thought, ‘I’ll open it up and decorate it.’”

The history behind the homes was what Fred Zesiger, Main Street Ottumwa executive director, enjoyed.

“Usually we try to have a pretty good collection of different time periods, too,” Zeisger said. “We didn’t have any old houses like Victorian houses this year, but we have had those in the past. Those are the ones I like to see, but I like to see them all, too.”

Finding residents willing to host their homes wasn’t easy, but they made it work.

Laureate Guild Vice President and Main Street board member Connie Ferguson said some volunteered their homes for show and took the time to decorate.

“It’s also a lot of work for them to decorate, because not everyone goes all out,” she said. “If they go on a home tour, they want everything to be perfect.”

Zeisger and Ferguson said it was safe to say that the tour ended with a “bang.” They will continue this yearly tradition because it’s their Christmas gift to the community.

Since both organizations partnered together to put on the event, they are dividing up the profits. Zeisger said on Main Street’s end, the funds will be used to renovate the downtown area and for activities, while the Laureate Guild will use the funds to help different nonprofits in the area.

Chiara Romero can be reached at


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