Gary Douglass as Santa and Ellen Langel as Mrs. Claus greet guests lined up outside the home at 2636 Parkwood Ave. during the annual Tours de Noel through the Old West End.
Eileen Angell reads about the 1910 Metz Plan Car that is on display at a home on Parkwood Avenue. The home is among eight structures included in the Tours de Noel, a fund-raiser for the Women of the Old West End.
Mary Patterson stood in holiday and architectural awe — several times.
The Mansion View Inn was her first stop Sunday on the Old West End Tours de Noel. She marveled at garlands adorning the railing on the wooden staircase, crystal pieces that caught the glimmer of holiday lights, and 17 ornately decorated Christmas trees.
“It’s beautiful. Can we borrow the decorator?” Ms. Patterson quipped to Innkeeper John DuVall.
“That’s me,” Mr. DuVall said laughing.
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The historic Old West End building — now an events venue and a bed and breakfast — was the first stop Sunday for hundreds of people who spent the afternoon strolling through some of the neighborhood’s historic homes.
The event began Saturday with a Santa parade, town crier, and tree lighting in Commons Park. The tours began Sunday and featured seven homes and a church.
“The woodwork and the decorations are just absolutely beautiful,” Ms. Patterson of Perrysburg said after walking through Mansion View Inn. “I love antiques and architecture and this gives me ideas for our holiday decorations.”
Anita Jacobs, left, Rocky Challen, and Tiffany Densic are given a tour by volunteer Crystal Jordan at 2636 Parkwood Ave. Volunteers at each of the seven homes and a church on the tour offered a historical background of each structure.
Mr. DuVall said about 400 people take the home tours every year.
The 10,000-square-foot mansion was built in 1887 for a prominent banker and grain merchant.
“Mansion View Inn is always on the tour because it is owned by the neighborhood,” he said. “For a lot of people, this is their first time seeing homes in the Old West End and they didn't know about the opulence and grandeur the neighborhood has to offer.”
The home tours help to change people’s perceptions that the neighborhood is dangerous, Mr. DuVall said.
“It’s one of the largest collections of homes like this in the country,” he said.
Jim and Vonda Oliver of Bay City, Mich., have taken the holiday tour in the Old West End for several years. Making the two hour and 15 minute drive is well worth it, Ms. Oliver said.
“We like coming down here,” she said.
“We used to have a historic home tour but I don't think we do any more. ... These homes are beautiful and very ornate.”
Bill Frisk, right, looks around the dining room at the 2702 Parkwood Ave. The home was built in 1916 for a mechanical engineer named George Smedley.
Richard Fisher of West Toledo marveled at the craftsmanship and decorations of 2702 Parkwood Ave. — a nearly century old, four-bedroom home also on the tour.
“It is one of the most beautiful homes I have ever toured in the Old West End,” Mr. Fisher said. “Although it’s not large like the other homes in the area, I like how many windows there are to let in natural light and the decisions they made to update the home were well thought out.”
Each tour stop included a brief history offered by volunteers from the Women of the Old West End.
The home at 2702 Parkwood was built in 1916 for a mechanical engineer named George Elliot and his wife, Lydia.
The home sits on an acre that includes an in-ground pool and one of the few remaining tennis courts in the Old West End.
Opening up the home to the public wasn’t easy for owner Kent Illenden
“It’s a little unnerving,” Mr. Illenden said. “It definitely taps our privacy button ... but it raises funds for the Women of the Old West End, which does a lot of work for preservation.”
Buying the home 26 years ago was a challenge.
“I grew up in an old house in Adrian on a farm, so I was used to the bigger space,” Mr. Illenden said. “I like a challenge and I like to do woodwork.”
Rhea Ellis-Boone, 2, of Toledo is drawn to a children’s display at Mansion View Inn, 2035 Collingwood Blvd.
Just as the line outside the home and the house next door — which was also on the tour — grew to several dozen people waiting to get inside, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in an antique-looking sleigh pulled by a modern-looking sport utility vehicle.
“We do this every year for the children on the tours,” said Gary Douglass of the Old West End, who portrayed old St. Nick.
The other homes on the tour were the Milmine-Stewart House/Toledo History Museum, 2001 Collingwood Blvd.; Forrester-Stambaugh Home, 2636 Parkwood Ave.; Kauffman-Vinnedge-Spitulski Home, 2110 Scottwood Ave.; Hixson-St.Clair Home, 2471 Robinwood Ave., and the Ann Manor-Alexander Home, 2200 Scottwood Ave. First Congregational Church, 2315 Collingwood Blvd., was also on the tour, which is the annual fund-raiser for the Women of the Old West End.
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