PHILIP KITTELL JR.
A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. At right, Paul and Anna Reiz of Romeo stand by their "nostalgia tree" full of sentimental and Romeo-based ornaments. The Reiz home, along with four other locations, will be featured on the Christmas Home Tour on Dec. 7. Below, from top: A Polar Express train chugs under a tree in the Reiz home; a decorated dining room is ready for guests; Anna and Paul rest near their fireplace that they decorated with a train.
(Observer photos by Chris Gray)
Christmas Home Tour
returns with five sites
by CHRIS GRAY
The holidays are a time to ready the home for family and friends, but five residents have gone above and beyond to open their doors to 300 guests.
Observer Staff Writer
The Romeo Historical Society is inviting guests to view five decorated homes and buildings during its annual Christmas Home Tour, held Saturday, Dec. 7. Ticket-holders are to meet at the First Congregational Church on Church Street before heading out to visit the locations.
Anna Reiz, vice-president of the Historical Society, said the guided tour features five homes that range from a 1960s ranch and a second-level apartment to her own 1872 home.
"We have a mix, it's pretty cool," she said. "It's part of the village, it's part of the history of the village."
The Reiz home originally belonged to Rhoda Newberry, mother of Senator John Newberry. He had the Victorian Gothic home built for her, costing him $3,000. The house belonged to the family until 1925, and changed ownership nine times in the following seven years.
When Anna's husband, Paul, purchased the home in 1993 it was a duplex. Before then, it was a boarding house, book store, boutique, ceramic shop and duplex home. In six years the Reizes restored the home to a single-family residence that replicates its original era, with most recent addition being a carriage barn in 2002.
This is the third year the Reizes have opened their home to the tour, having done so in 2005 and 2008. The home was also the basis for the Historical Society's 2008 edition of the historic home ornament series.
"The first time we did it we had just finished major renovations here so we were proud to show it off to the world," Anna said. "We still are."
To decorate the home for the tour, the couple has spent about two weeks decking the halls. They chose toy trains as a theme this year, setting up Lionel trains on loan from brother-in-law Mark Plotkowski.
"The fun is in the decorating, we enjoy putting all this stuff out," Paul said. "We don't see it for a year and a lot of it has personal and sentimental value, but we don't like putting it away. It's fun putting it up, it's work taking it down."
Other themes can be found throughout the home. Both Anna and Paul are recent retirees from the Detroit Media Partnership, so hundreds of figurines, ornaments and paintings involve newspapers. Guests can also view Anna's rocking horse collections and Santa Claus figures of varying sizes.
The couple has set up six Christmas trees with their own themes, with the most prominent being a nostalgia tree in the formal parlor while other trees have themes like the "Polar Express" or wine, beer and coffee.
"I love doing everything except putting lights on the Christmas trees," Anna said.
The decor also includes poinsettias, stockings and a set dining room table. Beyond the decorations, guests can admire historic features like a 1900s antique fireplace surround, curved plaster walls and windows original to the home and a reproduced tin ceiling.
All stops on the tour are not handicap accessible, and some require the climbing of stairs. Strollers are not allowed.
Tour times are 1-4 p.m., 4-7 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. Anna said only five tickets were available out of 300 tickets as of Dec. 2, with 100 tickets sold per time slot.
Anna said the tour is the biggest fundraiser for the society, with all proceeds benefiting operations such as maintaining three museums.
For further information, call (586) 752-4111 or visit www.romeohistoricalsociety.org.