Every other year, the Mason Area Historical Society hosts a Home Tour. This year’s tour features six residential properties in the Mason area. The tour will be on Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person and may be purchased in advance in downtown Mason at Ware’s Pharmacy, Bestsellers Bookstore, and Maple Street Mall. Tickets will also be available on the day of the tour at the Museum which is at 200 E. Oak Street and open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that day.
“Many people start their tour at the Mason Area Historical Museum anyway,” says Doug Klein, secretary of the Society. “Not only can people purchase their tickets there, the building also was originally the town home of John Rayner, a prominent Mason citizen of the nineteenth century. So, it could be considered the seventh home on the tour because you’ll discover how the building has changed over the decades from a home to a church to a museum.”
While the tour’s exact locations and more details are only found on the ticket/brochure, here are a few of the highlights of the homes and buildings that will be featured:
-- Our first home is a beautiful way to begin your Home Tour. It is a wonderfully updated home that keeps its original charm. During renovations, a newspaper dated 1885 was found in the walls, so the house was probably built in the late 1800’s. A large addition was built in 1910. This home sets the tone for the rest of the tour.
-- Believed to have been built about 1870, the next home is now occupied by its eighth family. A 1984 picture is evidence that the house has been highly renovated inside and out, yet it retains its original character. The once-attached garage was transformed into an indoor space by previous owners. Most recently the current owners have replaced the kitchen, doors, and windows, applied gallons of paint, added a new HVAC system, and overall made it their own. This home has had a variety of occupants through past decades, including a German immigrant, a saloon keeper, a former mayor and attorney, a local ambassador, and a family of five who lived there for 30 years.
-- With the original plot deeded to Charles Noble in 1840, this next home was believed to be built in 1914. Prior to the construction of the home, noteworthy landowners included Charles Noble (founder of Mason), Orlando M. Barnes (prominent lawyer and Mayor of Lansing), and the First Presbyterian Church of Mason. The design is an American Foursquare, known for its Craftsman-style woodwork and simple boxy layout that stands two-and-one-half stories high. Both the main house and the carriage house structures today stand in nearly their original forms. Oak floors, cabinetry, and trim remain untouched.
The foyer is adorned by large wooden columns. There are three large porches including a second-story porch that, when built, was used as a sleeping porch. Other unique features include two sets of large oak pocket doors, a butler’s pantry, nine-foot ceilings, horsehair plaster walls, and a third-story billiard room. Original woodwork, floors, and features remain -- with updated mid-century and contemporary finishes.
-- The next house first appears on an 1874 plat map. It was built by Charles C. (C.C.) Marsh, one of the county’s premier farmers and hostlers. With the addition of an enclosed mudroom, the house maintains its original footprint, oak flooring, millwork, cast iron coal fireplace, and many fixtures throughout. Though the home has been upgraded for modern livability, the changes have been modest. Radiators and wallpapers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries warm the home -- both in feel and in spirit -- and all major furnishings are period-appropriate.
-- A lovely Victorian home is next and was built in 1885 when wood was inexpensive. The front porch is painted in the colors common to the era. The exterior of the house is painted in Kennebunkport green. The front door is made from a solid slab of #1 grade white pine, with a unique doorbell. The woodwork in the house is the original oak trim. The light fixture in the foyer was added around 1930 when electricity was installed. The first bathroom in the house was under the stairs, the frosted window installed at that time is still there. The walls are the 1885 horsehair reinforced plaster. It is believed that the house next door was the servant’s quarters, as the original owners were prosperous.
-- The final tour house was built in 1900. Beautiful solid wood columns and posts throughout are all original, while the maple-built kitchen cabinets and tin ceilings were renovated to perfectly fit the feel of the house. At the entrance, check out the stained glass and original woodwork. There are also a few other treasures left by the original owners.
All proceeds from this event benefit the Mason Area Historical Museum and the Pink School Museum, which are both maintained by the Mason Area Historical Society, with the support of dedicated volunteers and the community. The main Museum and Pink School will be open with free admission during this event.
Mason Area Historical Society publications and memberships will also be available. For more information. Go to the masonmuseum.org website, their Mason Area Historical Society Facebook page, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Doug Klein at (517) 775-8601.