Explore Clay County's historic structures May 19 If you have ever been curious about the interiors of Clay County's oldest homes, mark May 19 on your calendar, when they Clay County Historic Preservation Commission will observe National Historic Preservation Week with open houses at several historic structures in the Vermillion area. The owners or representatives of organizations of five historic buildings have generously agreed to provide guided tours and "house talks" for the public during the course of the afternoon.
The event will begin at 1 p.m. at the Washington Street Arts Center where local artist and craftsman Rick Johns will discuss the work completed by the Vermillion Area Arts Council during the past few years on the former St. Agnes Catholic Church.
At 1:45 p.m., participants will move on the the Laughlin Home at 122 N. Yale where Jim and Michele Laughlin will open their home and describe the "work in progress" in the time since they acquired the home including a short history of its transition back to a single family dwelling. An old carriage house is being constructed on the grounds.
At 2:30 p.m., Larry and Betty Smith at 24 S. Harvard will give the history of their Queen Anne home, which was built in 1895, and discuss the historic treatment of walls and the use of color in old homes. The home has undergone a major restoration of its interior and exterior in the past three years. The use of color in Queen Anne homes is a major element of the style.
On Forest Avenue the Strandell-Banasiak family at 215 Forest Avenue will open their Queen Anne home to the public at 3:15 p.m. The home was the first to be built on the Hansen Addition. A garage from another historic home in Vermillion was recently moved to the property in order to preserve the structure, which was in danger of demolition by property owners who no longer wanted it.
The last stop on the tour will be at 4 p.m. in the rural area of Clay County where Jerry and Norman Wilson will open their recently acquired rural dwelling to the public. The two-story log house, located at 30998 was built in 1869 and inhabitated until the 1960s. It no longer is occupied but is a treasure chest of historical information about early life in Clay County.
Look for the tour to end around 4:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to walk along the course and consider the historic structures that reveal so much about who we were and how we lived. Transportation to the rural site is by private arrangement. The entire public is invited to attend any or all of the house tours.