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Posted: 12/12/12

Above, this year was the fifth home tour for mother and daughter Romeo residents Christine Phillips, left, and Martha Bentley, who admired the Victorian tree at the home of Doug and Linda Pritchard on Dec. 8. Below from top: Linda St. Laurent greeted the tour-goers at the bottom of her home's main staircase. The elegant lighted bronze statue sits on the banister. Guests were intrigued by the antique phonograph that sits in the vestibule; Docent Jackie Rix explained to guest, Charlotte Miller of Romeo, the significance of the Eastlake bed while she toured the home of Linda St. Laurent. Every room in the Church Street home was adorned with exquisite decorations and displays; Minot Street resident Linda Horney displayed items that were found inside the walls of her home during renovations. A bundle of items, including an old insurance policy, random catalogs, a birthday almanac and a child's drawing of Santa and his reindeer were found and are all dated before 1918. A boot and shoe were also found, which, when buried in the wall of a house under construction, were believed to ward off evil spirits.

(Observer photo by Debi Martone)

Tour-goers become a part of
history during Christmas Home Tour

Observer Special Writer
      In 1905, Alice Rolls, the widow of a Civil War veteran and Great Lakes captain, built a home on Church Street that was referred to in The Romeo Observer that year as the "last of Romeo's large residences."
       On Saturday, Dec. 8, some 107 years later, Linda St. Laurent opened the front door of that same address and welcomed over 300 guests as they took part in the Romeo Historical Society's (RHS) annual Christmas Home Tour.
       St. Laurent has lived in the residence for 26 years and refers to it as a "house built on love." Alongside her late husband, Roland, St. Laurent renovated and redecorated every room of the large, five bedroom home and brought it back to its historical grandeur.
       "We had to strip paint from all of the woodwork and redecorate each room to our taste," St. Laurent said. "I love our home. It is very much a family house."
       Tour-goers were able to step back in time as they enjoyed seeing every room in the exquisitely decorated home. Eleven themed Christmas trees are situated throughout the home, but St. Laurent said the one that means the most to her is her "family tree."
       "All of the ornaments were made by my kids and my grandkids," St. Laurent said as she admired one of them.
       Another show-stopper on the tour was the Tillson Street home owned by Doug and Linda Pritchard. The house was built in 1895 by Byron and Mary Seaman and originally sat at 119 Church Street, where the Romeo Post Office is now located. It was moved to its current location in 1956 by the couple's son, Dwight.
       Byron's parents, Charles and Mary, were "reunited" with their son's home for the first time since then especially for the tour.
       "Byron commissioned William Woodruff Gibbs to paint his parent's portraits from tintypes," said Linda.
       The paintings hung in the home until it was sold for $1 and moved across town. The paintings are currently owned by the RHS, who loaned them to the Pritchards for the tour helping to put faces on some of the names from the home's past.
       The Pritchards also displayed a wool Remembrance wreath that was loaned to them by descendants of the Seaman family. In addition, the home was adorned with architecturally themed decorations, including a large Victorian tree that lit up the formal parlor with red flowers and gold ornaments.
       The historic Main Street homes of Chris and Cobi McLeod and Richard and Virginia Kyro and the Minot Street home of Jeff and Linda Horney were also included on the tour.
       Romeo resident, Christine Phillips, took part in the tour for the fifth year.
       "I like to go because I feel like I am little piece of the history that took place there<sort of like I am now a part of that house's story. And that makes me want to protect them all the more," she said.
       The tour, which is sold out every year, is the RHS's biggest fundraiser. Anyone interested in showing their home for next year's tour is encouraged to call RHS president, Sue Kane, at (586) 752-4111.

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