Families and organizations from around Fort Scott opened their homes and buildings for members of the community to visit and tour during the 36th Annual Homes for the Holiday Tour Saturday and Sunday, as well as the Moonlight and Mistletoe Tour held Friday evening.
“This took almost a year in coordination,” said Rhonda Dunn, president of the Historic Preservation Association, during the Moonlight and Mistletoe Tour Friday. “And I think it is going absolutely great.”
Participants in the tour included buildings such as the Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church, built in 1872, which allowed visitors to see its collection of artwork and stained glass windows. Bethel Community Church, constructed in 1916, was also open as was the Bourbon County Courthouse, which had new exhibits on display.
Families also gave tours of their homes, such as Arlo and Ernestine Eden, who, with some of their seven children, pointed out its antiques and other items collected or passed down through generations of their family. They also told stories of their farmhouse, such as when a tornado tipped it on its side in 1916 and it had to be put upright once again.
Bob and Denise Duncan also opened their home, located on the second floor of what was previously a commercial building on S. National. A Mad Hatter Tea Part was also held at the location Saturday afternoon, with community members of all ages dressing for the occasion.
A new and possibly one-time addition to the tour this year was the E3 Ranch owned by the LaRoche family, which was the highlight of the Moonlight and Mistletoe Tour Friday evening. Interest in the tour led to the 150 tickets being sold out quickly, with more tickets being added and again sold out.
The Moonlight and Mistletoe Tour first visited the home of Loren and Julie Readinger, Jennifer LaRoche’s parents, which was built by her great-great-grandfather in 1927. The Readingers moved into the home just a year ago after remodeling it.
The tour also visted major league baseball player and Fort Scott native Adam and Jennifer LaRoches’ first home – now a guest house, their E3 Ranch house built in just the past few years and a building housing a basketball court, batting cages and further living quarters where a reception was held Friday evening.
Dunn said she had mentioned to Jennifer, her cousin, during the previous Moonlight and Mistletoe event that the HPA would love to one year have the E3 Ranch on their tour. Initially Jennifer said they would rather wait until they lived in the home full-time, but a month later they said they would host the event this year, with Adam expressing an eagerness to help with the fundraiser.
The E3 Ranch — named after a baseball term designating an error by the first baseman, LaRoche’s position — allowed visitors to see LaRoche’s baseball and hunting trophies on display as well as the living areas of the couple and their two children. A live nativity scene was also on their property, with costumed children accepting requests for Christmas carols.
Participants said they were pleased that the homes on the tours throughout the weekend had a lived-in feel to them, instead of merely being on display.
Friday evening, Dunn and the HPA also presented a check to the Chamber of Commerce and the city of Fort Scott to go towards purchasing a new trolley for the city.