The Preservation Alliance’s 27th annual Historic Home and Garden Tour will be held in Urbana on June 29 and 30. This year the Champaign County Preservation Alliance (CCPA) is offering tour tickets for sale via the website www.ccpapreserveohio.org and at local banks and retailers. On the day of the tour, ticket holders will exchange their pre-sale tickets for tour booklets at the welcome tent on the corner of East Market and South Locust streets. Not only must pre-sale tickets be exchanged at the tent, but all tickets will be sold only at the tent. There will be no tickets available at the tour sites.
After hosting the last two tours in the western part of the county, the CCPA is returning to Urbana to feature homes, gardens, museums, a caboose, a church and a former courthouse.
A former courthouse? Yes, the current home of Urbana Dental Smiles on South Main Street has served many purposes over the years, including service as the Champaign County Courthouse from 1948-1956. It was pressed into service after a catastrophic fire destroyed the historic old courthouse in 1948. In 2017 it was converted to a full service dental facility inside, while preserving the exterior visage.
Museums? Yes, this year there will be two museums on the tour. The Champaign County Historical Museum on East Lawn Avenue will open its doors and visitors will be able to explore a sampling of the 9,000 artifacts preserved by the historical society since 1934. Also, the recently relocated Johnny Appleseed Museum will be on the tour. It is now located in Urbana University’s architecturally significant Browne Hall on College Way. Browne Hall was purchased by John H. James and given to Urbana University for use as a women’s dormitory. Old stories allege that the Hall is haunted, but no recent stories exist.
Hauntings? Yes, there will be a haunted house on the tour this year. “Haunted Hills” on East State Route 29 will be on the tour. This house is the oldest structure featured on the tour. It was erected circa 1830 on a hill overlooking the Mad River Valley and Urbana. Tour-goers will enjoy this Federal era home.
One tour location is decidedly not haunted, but is instead invested with the Divine Spirit. The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany on the corner of Scioto and Kenton streets will open its doors and the tour-goers will be delighted by the Chancel and Sanctuary windows, which are made of a rare Belgian stained glass and have just been conserved, cleaned, re-leaded, and placed back into restored wooden frames. This church is a “must see” location on the tour.
Other houses on the 2019 tour include the former homes of early Urbana industrialists, socialites, developers, storekeepers, bricklayers, and seamstresses. The eight homes range from tiny to huge. Architecturally they represent most of the building styles of the 19th and early 20th century: Federal, Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Victorian-Italianate, American Folk, Colonial Revival, and Bungalow. The largest home on the tour is the circa 1839 home near the southwest corner of Scioto and Happersett streets. The smallest is a circa 1892 home on Laurel Oak Street.
“Some of the interiors of these homes will knock your socks off…” says Sandy Gonzalez, Chair of the 2019 CCPA Historic Home and Garden Tour. If you are a fan of the Home and Garden TV Show “Fixer-Upper” you will be delighted with the renovation of a Bungalow-styled home on Washington Street. The owners are midway through a Joanna Gaines inspired interior renovation complete with shiplap, muted colors, and industrial chic.
And, there is a delightful garden on the tour. The Seward family garden on South Kenton Street will be open to tour-goers. It features lilies in profusion, perennials, and roses all tastefully set in a residential setting.
Each home, church, museum, and business on the tour demonstrate how older structures can be historically preserved and updated to fit 21st century lifestyles. The NX-23 railcar on Miami Street preserves an important part of Champaign County history.
The Champaign County Preservation Alliance returns all funds raised by the Historic Home and Garden tour to local preservation—preserving the vintage homes, churches, and businesses in Champaign County through the CCPA facade grant programs.
Rob Pollock is president of the Champaign County Preservation Alliance.