Tour opens up Old Town Greenwood homes to public

<p>With the gabled roofs, expansive wrap-around porches and colonnades, the quaint homes in Greenwood’s Old Town neighborhood are time capsules into the area’s history.</p>
<p>Italianate brackets and gingerbread woodwork accent rooflines and facades. Brightly colored molding and front doors provide bursts of color along the shaded sidewalks and roadways.</p>
<p>Many of the structures have been standing for 100 years or more. The exteriors of these homes are intriguing enough; now people will be able to peek inside.</p>[sc:text-divider text-divider-title="Story continues below gallery" ]
<p>“We want people to walk through these, finding the ones they’ve always gone by and wondered what it looked like inside,” said Craig DeBoor, a board member for Restore Old Town Greenwood and a historic homeowner himself. “We’d love the community, and people from neighboring counties, to check out the great homes and streets here in Old Town Greenwood.”</p>
<p>A group of seven homeowners are part of the inaugural historic home tour, giving people the opportunity to explore some of Greenwood’s most historic homes. The tour is being organized by Restore Old Town Greenwood, a preservation organization focused on the longtime center of the city.</p>
<p>Peek inside stately Victorian homes from the 1880s and 1890s, appreciate the craftsmanship and skill of builders from more than 100 years ago and marvel at the care homeowners have taken to restore and preserve these important structures.</p>
<p>Most of all, the event will help people have a better understanding of Greenwood’s history and the efforts to keep that history alive as the city moves forward.</p>
<p>“So many people love architecture, love old homes, love seeing some of these great designs that are just kind of lost with modern building,” DeBoor said. “That time and craftsmanship, where people wanted to hand-carve exterior molding or put down 1-inch hardwood floors, we believe those things should be honored and showcased.”</p>
<p>DeBoor and his family live in a grand white mid-century colonial house on Valley. Set on top of a hill overlooking the neighborhood, its columned facade and shady canopy of oaks makes for a warm and inviting homestead that is rare in city centers.</p>
<p>The house was built in the classic colonial style home, and the DeBoors have lived there for a number of years, slowly working on it.</p>
<p>“We’ve done lots and lots of renovation, had several people who wanted to check out the house. So when we were putting together this tour, we had to be on it,” DeBoor said. “We’re happy to show people what we’ve done.”</p>
<p>Restore Old Town Greenwood was created in response to concern that the city’s historic structures were in danger of being torn down. The organization was founded by resident Jennifer Hollingshead, who reached out to preservation groups Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Main Street after plans emerged to tear down a number of remaining buildings in Greenwood’s downtown area.</p>
<p>Her efforts led to the formation in 2011 of a nonprofit dedicated to maintaining the city’s unique history.</p>
<p>One of their most visible efforts has been partnering with city leaders to secure a grant to restore facades in downtown Greenwood buildings.</p>
<p>The organization was also instrumental in having a portion of the Old Town area added as a National Residential Historic District. The district includes the neighborhood from US 31 to Meridian Street, between Main and Euclid and Longdon streets.</p>
<p>Most of the homes on the historic tour are included in that district.</p>
<p>The idea of a home tour is one that intrigued Restore Old Town Greenwood leadership for years. Communities such as Franklin and the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood in Indianapolis have immensely popular tours that showcase one-of-a-kind historic homes, and the thought was that Greenwood could have that as well.</p>
<p>“Since we’ve lived in Greenwood, there’s never been anything like that here before,” DeBoor said. “There are so many great homes here and so much history that we really wanted to showcase a lot of the historic homes here.”</p>
<p>Organizers of the home tour put a call out among the historic homeowners in the Old Town area, allowing those who wanted to participate to come forward if they wanted to. A small grant from Festival Country Indiana, the county’s tourism bureau, allowed for the creation of some marketing materials and other advertisements.</p>
<p>The result was seven homeowners who were excited to open up their homes. Restore Old Town Greenwood tour organizers came out to see the houses for themselves, and each one proved to be a beautiful example of classic architecture and eclectic home design, DeBoor said.</p>
<p>“There are so many people that are out there working on their houses for months and months and months, it’s so neat to see the transformation, to see how much they pour into their home,” DeBoor said. “And it’s contagious.”</p>
<p>The oldest home on the tour is from the 1870s, built on one of the first 150-acre parcels that was given to settlers to the Greenwood area. The original part of the house had been built by John Brewer, a Civil War veteran and one of the first settlers in the area, in 1873. Additions have been made to that original portion, but that historic section is still incorporated into the overall structure.</p>
<p>Other homes included on the tour were built in the 1880s and 1890s. The most recently constructed structure on the tour is DeBoor’s house, built in 1949.</p>
<p>“There’s just so much history to see,” DeBoor said.</p>
<p>While the tour is obviously focused on the residences in the Old Town area, organizers also hope that it attention it brings spreads to the restaurants and businesses in the area as well.</p>
<p>“We’ve got some great small business owners here who are very supportive. That was another reason we wanted to do this here — there are a lot of people who don’t drive down Madison (Avenue) or Main (Street) to see some of these boutique clothing shops, retail and dining,” DeBoor said.</p>[sc:pullout-title pullout-title="If you go" ][sc:pullout-text-begin]<p><strong>Greenwood Historic Home Tour</strong></p>
<p>What: Seven homeowners will open up their historic homes to the public in this event, benefiting the Restore Old Town Greenwood preservation group.</p>
<p>When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 14</p>
<p>Where: Old Town Greenwood</p>
<p>Tickets: $10. Attendees will be given wristbands to take part in the tour, giving access to all of the homes included. Wristband pickup will be in the Cornerstone Autism parking lot at Madison and Broadway Avenues.</p>
<p>Information: restoreoldtowngreenwood.org or <a href="http://Facebook.com/RestoreGreenwood">Facebook.com/RestoreGreenwood</a></p>[sc:pullout-text-end]