Homes for the holidays

Published 5:22 pm Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tour of homes showcases historical, festive architecture

Some Albert Lea residents got to peek behind the curtain at Saturday’s Christmas holiday tour of homes event.

Email newsletter signup

The tour featured four locations, including two homes on Park Avenue, intellicents and the Freeborn County Historical Museum, Library & Village, which put on the event as a fundraiser. Saturday’s event was the third of the biennial tour.

“I think a lot of people like to come and just get to go inside,” Freeborn County Historical Museum, Library & Village President Brad Kirchner said.

Visitor Mary Jemming looks at past photos of the house with homeowner Steve Schulz. Jemming attended the event because she said she likes to support the town. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

Although the tour does not necessarily target old homes, this year’s tour featured locations with historical architecture.

Finding willing locations is a challenge. Kirchner called more than 37 people to ask to display.

At intellicents, Chief Executive Officer Brad Arends made himself available to answer questions from visitors on anything, ranging from the molding to the woodwork to the spacing of the windows.

“He takes pride in what they’ve done,” Kirchner said. “He should.”

Selection is based partially on community curiosity, and those opening their homes decide how and what they would like to showcase. When Kirchner’s own home was showcased several years ago, that meant channeling his passion for interior design into setting up 13 Christmas trees. For someone else, it may mean something different.

“We try to target homes that we think people in Albert Lea would especially like to see,” Kirchner said.

This included intellicents, but also included Steve and Jodi Schulz’s Park Avenue home, which they have been remodeling for 10 years.

The Schulzes have been asked to display their 100-plus-year-old home before, but Jodi Schulz said that after the remodel was complete, they were finally comfortable with opening it up. When they lived in the Twin Cities, Steve and Jodi Schulz used to enjoy looking at the big, old homes in St. Paul.

Brad Arends of intellicents and tour-goers discuss the height of the business’s upstairs windows in keeping with the historical architecture of the building. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

“We just always loved old homes, with the character,” Steve Schulz said.

The character of history is also what drew Christmas tour of home participants Carol and David Wolter in.

“It’s an appreciation of what came before us,” David Wolter said.

That, and the Gophers weren’t doing too well when they left, Carol Wolter said.

In addition to seeing the homes, Kirchner said it gives tour-goers a chance to visualize potential opportunities within their own homes: paint colors, furniture choices, flooring and holiday decorations.

“They can go, ‘Oh, I really like that’ once they see it,” he said.

But it works both ways.

“The individuals sometimes like the opportunity to show more than just a couple individuals, friends and family, what their homes look like,” Kirchner said.

Jodi Schulz said people she spoke with were excited they opened their home for viewing, and they seemed to appreciate that the family has kept the character of the home’s original architecture.

“As far as the house goes … it’s a passion that we’ve had,” Jodi Schulz said. “We did it for ourselves.”

Place settings showcase vintage Christmas spirit in the Schulz’s dining room Saturday afternoon. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

email author More by Sarah