With the feast of Thanksgiving wrapped up for another year, thoughts turn to the Christmas season and the endless hours of decorating soon to commence. Before heading to the attic to retrieve the storage containers filled with strands of lights, delicate ornaments and miles of garland, it might be time to take a tour.

The Christmas Tour of Homes will be offered by St. Paul Lutheran Church of Winterset on Saturday, Dec. 7, 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Eight beautiful homes, local downtown artisan b. shannon Designs, and the St. Paul Lutheran Church will be dressed for the Christmas season. Participants will have the chance to see the interiors of some artfully decorated homes and businesses to obtain some fresh decorating ideas, and see how others make their spaces festive for the season.

Tickets purchased in advance are $13 and will be available at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Country Cutters, Madison Co. Mercantile, Heartland Fiber, Pine Creek, Harvest Creek and the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are also available the day of the tour and may be purchased at the church for $15.

Refreshments will be provided by the St. Paul Lutheran Church, allowing tour attendees a chance to view their beautifully decorated trees up for silent auction.

A percentage of the proceeds from the tour of homes will go to CRISP and Tori’s Angels. Questions may be directed to the church at 515-462-4270, Sheila Stewart at 515-468-1464, Cathy Hollingsworth at 515-462-4746, or Alyssa Tadlock at 515-313-1443.

Starting at the St. Paul Lutheran Church, attendees will receive a program listing the directions to each home or business.

Following are the homes and businesses included in this year’s tour.

Tim and Jacque Mohs

The home is 5.3 miles north of Winterset on HWY 169. Their driveway is shared with the Winterset Cidery; enter the driveway and take the road to the right. The property will be on the blacktop portion of the road, with their red barn sitting by the pond on the left. Their house is an additional .3 miles back, when the road ends. (Participants will pass three houses on the right and a new Morton building/barn on the left before arriving at the Mohs’ home.)

Join them at the new country home, built by Scott Creger. View his incredible craftsmanship, as well as many talented local contractors. The Mohs’ goal was to build a cozy home that lets them enjoy the beauty of the outside every day. 

“Our home has many fun architectural features designed with both adults and children in mind. Our setting is best viewed in the daytime, as one can see for miles around while overlooking the beautiful valleys and countryside of Madison County.

When they decided to build a new home, they decided to  take their barn, built by Barn Builders of Iowa. 

“We moved the 2,000 sq. ft. barn five miles, taking down five power lines and shutting down Hwy 169 in the process,” say the Mohses.

It has since been re-settled and repainted; they encourage visitors to take a look inside on their way to or from the house. 

“We think you will like the rustic feel of the barn all while enjoying a warm, crackling fire.”

Amber and Jeremy Charlet

“We moved to Winterset and built our home back in 2014. We wanted to find a place where our kids would have plenty of space to play and would feel a strong sense of community. We found that in Winterset!”

Their “modern farmhouse” features a covered porch where they spend a lot of time taking in the fresh air, a swing fire pit which is the perfect spot on a summer night, a treehouse where their daughters spend hours crafting, and “our very own covered bridge”. The Charlets love their house most of all during Christmas. 

“The sights and smells make it feel like home. Please enjoy touring our home!”

Rhonda Penquite

This walk-out ranch was designed and built by the owner in 2006. It has an open floor plan which is warm and welcoming, especially at Christmas. Penquite goes all out while decorating, with a tree and a theme in every room, decorations on the fireplace, a fiber optic forest, a cardinal kingdom and much more. This is a must-see and a don’t-miss.

Kara and John O’Neal

This house has been a part of Winterset history since 1872; it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The “Wallace House” is named for one of its early occupants, Henry C. Wallace, the father of future Vice President, Henry A. Wallace, and a Secretary of Agriculture in his own right.

Henry C. spent his childhood on Jefferson Street, while his father bought and ran the Winterset Madisonian. Since then, there have been many others  residing there through the years, raising families and each making their own imprint on the home. Current owners John and Kara O’Neal have lived there since 2010 and feel more “stewards” than owners.

“Whenever I tell people in the town where I live, I always get a varied response. They will say ‘oh, you live in the Pace home.’ or ‘that was Bob and Dixie Young’s place’, and I realize that you never really own a house; the house owns you for awhile as you care for it and leave your own mark on the place. I will be out there working on the side garden and think of Dixie who planted it and cared for it so lovingly, or sitting around the firepit in the courtyard and think of John and Cora McQuigg, who back-breakingly added the brick patio here. A home really is an amalgamation of all who came before.”

The O’Neals have certainly added their own touches, especially on the inside, and they are very excited for you to see them all as they open their home to everyone on this Christmas tour.

Robin Paul

This house was purchased in August 2017. The house and property were in a state of disrepair and neglect. Over the past two years, it has been completely rehabbed with the help of many friends and local contractors: Hirsch Electric, Quality Construction, Swihart Plumbing, Bill Jensen Heating and Cooling, Drywall Express and Rainbow International. 

It took three months to remove the majority of the items that were left in the house; many were donated but the rest went to 10 plus large dumpsters (thank you, Atomic Rolloff). Though the major work on the home is complete, the fine tuning will continue for years to come. This is the first official Christmas celebrated in the home by its new occupants. 

Of architectural significance  are the third floor exterior (four corners) which give the home its unusual look. These corner windows are in the walk up attic, which remains unfinished. 

The home has an uncharacteristically open floor plan for the Victorian era construction. Built by a lumber man in 1885, it features an intricate original floor inlay and mostly original woodwork including pocket doors, French doors and built in buffet. The home has a separate maid’s entrance and rear stairs, as well as a pass through serving door through the buffet from the kitchen to the dining room, like a Victorian fast food window, which is no longer in use. There are four large bedrooms on the second floor. The main floor has a large foyer with two equally impressive entrances from the newly restored porch, a formal living room with a fireplace, dining room, parlor and kitchen.

Some of the major changes in the home include new windows, entirely new plumbing and fixtures, new electrical with sufficient service for a modern home and new fixtures, new drywall where necessary and plaster restoration, restored floors, wallpaper removal throughout, and an entirely new kitchen with large pantry and laundry. The home decor is eclectic and modern.

Working with local historian Linda Smith, the owners were able to gather a great deal of information about the home and its more significant owners over the years. Much of this historical information is from Smith. 

“The first land transaction was John C. Alexander who purchased the land from the Madison County Treasurer in April, 1871. Alexander then sold it to Fred Strong. Strong arrived in Winterset in 1879 and was in the lumber business with Richard Price. He also owned the Madisonian with his son, Albert Strong, in the 1890s. The house was constructed in 1885. The Winterset Madisonian and Chronicle, as it was called at the time after two papers merged, states, ‘Mr. Fred Strong’s new residence is fast approaching completion. It will be one of the finest in the city.’”

The railroad came to town in 1872 bringing steel beams and larger windows, which made three-story elaborate homes possible. In October of 1899, Strong and his wife Elizabeth sold the home to C.A. Cole who was a prominent Winterset businessman and a jeweler/optometrist from approximately 1880 to 1910 when he moved to Florida. From reading old newspapers, it is evident that both the Strongs and Coles were very social, entertaining others from Winterset, housing their families for visits, and hosting meetings for various women’s organizations.

“We hope to continue that tradition with family, friends, and students to Robin’s art studio located in the recently restored garage.”

2019 will be the first Christmas holiday celebrated in the home since its restoration. Since Max, Gracie, and George, (golden retrievers), and Robin enjoy a less traditional celebration for the holidays, the home is decorated with holiday touches inspired by nature, art, dogs and Pinterest. We hope you enjoy your visit to our home.

Steve and Nancy Fauser, Heavenly Habitat 

A ground-breaking service was held on Sunday, July 24, 1949, for St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Winterset, with excavation work commencing on Aug. 11, 1949.

The “Mission Builders”, a group of six young men who donated their time to help build churches for mission congregations, spent three months here in Winterset working on construction of St. Paul’s. A dedication service was held at the completed church on Sunday, Jan. 8, 1950.

On Sunday, July 7, 1986, a groundbreaking was done at a special service for an addition to the south side of the original structure. Work was completed on the addition and on Sunday, June 28, 1987, a dedication service was held.

Steve and Nancy purchased the property in 2005, after St. Paul Lutheran Church moved to the current location on North Eighth Avenue.

The former church sanctuary now serves as their personal residence, complete with new stained glass windows installed in 2016. The former fellowship hall was converted into a bed and breakfast with two bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The B&B also contains a separate kitchen, living room, dining area, laundry room and deck. In 2018, a private suite was added to the B&B in the lower level, where the Sunday school rooms and the original church kitchen were located. The suite contains a large bedroom, a full bathroom, a living area, a coffee bar and a combination shower room/laundry room.

“We hope you enjoy touring our home and bed and breakfast.”

Rose Acres, Baur House

The Baur House, located two miles west of Winterset on Hwy. 92, was built in 1917-1918 by Peter John Cunningham for his wife, Marcella. He used the best quality materials and details, such as oak woodwork, wide pocket doors, double fireplace, walk-in cold room, and a foot tub in the bathroom.

The house is three stories high with a full basement. The 15 rooms on the first and second floors included a modern kitchen, solarium, several bedrooms, two indoor bathrooms, an office, and two dining rooms. There is a formal dining room east of the kitchen and dining room west of the kitchen that was used for the hired men and women. The third floor was designed as a ballroom with numerous closets and inset windows. There is a matching two car brick garage with a circular drive.

Peter, at the age of 50, and Marcella Monaghan, nearly 30 years younger, were married in 1904 at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Winterset. They had six children and all but the youngest married local people, four of which were local farmers.

Peter died in 1936 and Marcella in 1962. They were both buried in the Winterset Cemetery.

 After her parents’ death, the oldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth, and her husband, Merritt Baur, acquired the farm and home in 1966. Then in 1986, they sold it to Rose Acres Farms, which is owned by the Rust family of Indiana. It is an egg production complex which ships eggs all over the United States.

 Rose Acres calls the house the Baur House in respect of the Baurs. They have furnished the house in keeping with its time period, plus a nice display of chicken and egg related items throughout the house. One interesting note: the windows had been replaced with combinations by Baurs; Rose Acres has replaced them with original type windows on all but the back of the house. They also converted the third floor ballroom into a complete suite for their use.

The house has been open to the public by appointment for many functions and tour groups. Monetary contributions are given to the Madison County Historical Society at the request of the Rust family. There have been many celebrities stay in the house since Rose Acres purchased it, including Oprah Winfrey and her TV crew and more recently, John Wayne’s daughter when she is here for his birthday celebrations.

Terry and Patrick Rabbitt, Ruby House B&B

The Ruby House was built in 1878 and is named after its builders, Samuel and Sophia Ruby. After Samuel left for Ireland to be the counsel, the property changed hands several times until it was purchased by the Robinsons in 1920. They saw the need for a hospital and so it became the first one in Madison County. In 1945, it closed its hospital doors and became a rooming house, followed by apartments, until it was transformed back into the single family dwelling you see today.

Pat and Terry Rabbitt purchased the property in 2015, and have been busy with its transformation ever since. Outside they have a two-car garage, professional landscaping, three new sets of steps (two are not quite in their finished state), and all of the wood siding and trim have a fresh coat of paint.

Much work has been done on the interior. The upstairs now boasts central air and three renovated bathrooms as well as an additional fourth. Lots of missing woodwork has been re-created throughout, and every inch of the inside has a new coat of paint. 

“The music room fireplace got a mantel and white marble tile; it was a hole in the wall with the black marble tile when we bought the house, and it is now a working fireplace. The other two original fireplaces to not function, but they’re beautiful!”

In the dining room, you will see a new oak and walnut floor instead of the plywood that was there. (The only original floor you will see in the house is in the southeast bedroom.) Plaster crown molding in this room went through extensive repairs. The kitchen received a custom island and new appliances. Many other details, too numerous to mention, have brought this grand old gal back to life!

b. shannon designs

A custom jewelry store and gallery, b. shannon designs has been in business for 11 years. Owner Brooke Sutphin came to Winterset and found the beautiful old bank building on the northwest corner of the square to be the perfect location for her contemporary and traditional jewelry gallery. 

Within her business you may find anything from traditional diamond earrings, sterling hoops, and diamond bands, to artful one-of-a-kind pieces with colored diamonds and gemstones you may never have heard of. Metals ranging from gold to platinum to silver and alternative metals are also offered among her selections. Sutphin invites you to create your own custom piece of jewelry, or select something from her many items on display.

While enjoying the holiday season, stop by and browse through her designs – you may experience something you have never seen before!