Wheaton Housewalk offers glimpse inside notable homes

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted11/8/2018 6:00 AM
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  • Four homes will be featured in the Nov. 10 Wheaton Holiday House Walk, including the 1905 historic house at 1203 E. Harrison.

    Four homes will be featured in the Nov. 10 Wheaton Holiday House Walk, including the 1905 historic house at 1203 E. Harrison. Courtesy of Wheaton Holiday House Walk

Passers-by wondering what that cute Georgian with the charming garden or that stately brick home with the huge footprint looks like on the inside can finally sate their curiosity on Saturday, Nov. 10.

That's when the fifth annual Wheaton Holiday Housewalk will give ticketholders the opportunity to explore four homes with the help of tour guides schooled in each home's special features.

The event is a fundraiser for Wheaton North High School's show choir, Flight, and the guides are student members of the traveling performance group.

Jennifer Brown's downtown Wheaton abode is one of the tour stops.

"It's a modern farmhouse, slanting toward traditional," she said.

Brown said she, her husband, their 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter lived on the same lot in what she describes as a "cozy little ranch" with one bathroom for four years before razing the structure to build a new home in 2016.

The new two-story, four-bedroom home, gray with white trim, was built with an eye toward creating a style that blends well with the city's historic district.

"We wanted our house to fit in," Brown said. "We wanted to use as much natural stuff as we could. I like the house to reflect where we live."

Parts of the house were built with wood from razed Midwestern barns.

"We have a tin ceiling in our entryway," she said.

The tin tiles were originally part of an old Madison, Wisconsin, dance hall that Brown found for sale online through an antique dealer.

"It's all bespoke furniture," she said, including a coffee table made from 100-year-old oak.

Displayed throughout the house are original artworks created by family members, including a watercolor rendering of a Nebraska train depot painted by Brown's great grandmother.

The kitchen was designed to be not only beautiful but functional.

"I wanted it to be user-friendly because I love to cook," said Brown, a cook on staff at Blackberry Market in Glen Ellyn.

Her husband is a financial adviser.

"My husband has an awesome office over the single-car garage. It's a man cave, so we'll be showing that," she said.

Each of the four homes on the housewalk will be decorated for the holidays.

The Brown family home will be decorated for Thanksgiving Day with the help of florists and place-setters.

Brown said she and her family are enthusiastic about helping Flight via the fundraiser.

"I love supporting Flight. My niece, Holly Brown, is in Flight, as well as our baby-sitter," she said.

Grace Litavsky, a senior at Wheaton North, has been in Flight throughout her high school years and has been a housewalk tour guide each of those years.

She said questions from visitors usually reflect a desire to imitate admired features.

"They ask about paint colors and countertop options," she said.

She said students also assist visitors with navigating stairs and donning house bootees intended to keep carpets clean.

A member of the Science Club and the Improv Club at Wheaton North, Litavsky said Flight gives students who like to sing and dance a creative outlet in addition to their other disparate extracurricular activities.

"We have football players. We have volleyball players," she said.

Like Litavsky, senior Liam Flynn has been part of the Flight show choir since he was a freshman.

"I'm involved in a lot of theater at Wheaton North," said Flynn, a piano player who is also a member of the school's Thespian Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society and Chamber Choir.

Joining Flight was a given for Flynn.

"My siblings did Flight since it began. I've always been interested in music and dance. Flight is really like a family for a lot of people," he said.

The group's performances, staged both locally and in venues as distant as Los Angeles and Nashville, are directed by music teacher Kassy Krause and choreographed by Stephen Todd. Funds raised by the housewalk help pay for costumes and travel expenses.

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