(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
The home tours, which is the Depot's biggest fundraiser, are part of the "The Sikeston Christmas Gift Weekend."
"There's so much going on as December starts, and we're just trying to work with everything that's going on in the community so most people can do everything they want to on those two days," said Pam Bedell, chair of the tours.
Set for 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 1, the self-guided tours will feature the homes of Don and Rita Baker, who have the oldest home in Sikeston; Neal and Barbara Ross, who own a 50-year-old brick ranch style home; Pat and Mike Marsh, whose home will feature their Dickens Village collection; and Brooke and Jay Reed, who own one of the newest homes in Sikeston.
"We tried to have something everyone would be interested in," Bedell said. "We have one of the oldest homes and one of the newest homes on the tour."
Bedell called the event is a service for the people of the community.
"It's fun to see the different ways to decorate and sometimes you can get ideas for your own decorating," Bedell said.
However, it's a lot of work for the people to open their homes to the public, Bedell pointed out.
"Most of us don't start decorating until after December. These folks have to start in October and November," Bedell said.
Built in 1855 by the Hunter family, the Hunter Baker house preceded the founding of Sikes Town by five years and the Civil War by six years, Don Baker said.
"We farmed the farm and lived in the house," Baker said.
The Baker family has been occupying the house since 1888. A handout of the home's history will be available for visitors.
Baker said he has many memories as a young person of the residence.
"I remember the ice box, which is what I still call it today, the huge wood cook stove and the old fireplace, where my great aunts had fabricated a 'spit' by wetting cotton twine and securing small birds on it. Twisting the wet twine, which was strung across the fire, would slowly unwind and begin 'slow roasting' the game," Baker recalled.
Baker also remembers the big mule barn that housed about 75 mules when he was a boy. The barn stood where the Lee Hunter School building is today.
Mike Marsh said preparing his home on Greenbrier Drive for the tour was a lot of work -- but worth it.
"We're almost done," Marsh said. "It's taken us the last couple of weekends. We enjoy it and we hope others will, too."
One of the home's highlights is the couple's Dickens Village collection.
"It started with one piece, and it has been our Christmas and anniversary gifts to each other for 20 years," Marsh said.
Marsh's wife also has a snowman collection he thinks visitors will enjoy.
Local artist Barbara Ross described her older home on Beard Drive.
"It's not elegant -- it's lived in," said Ross, who said she loves Christmas.
Usually the Rosses put up one big Christmas tree, but this year they've added another tree with pink decorations in the bedroom, she said. She also has a pair of "Santa legs" hanging down her chimney.
"I haven't done that much extra (decorating)," Ross said as Christmas music played in the background. "It's just it had to be up earlier than usual."
Jay Reed built the home he and his family live in on South Ingram. They moved into their home only four months ago.
"I had never decorated the home for Christmas so it was a new experience decorating it for the first time," Brooke Reed said. "There was a lot of trial and error."
Reed said she still has a few odds and ends to do before the tours begin. "My house is definitely not going to be the most decorated on the tour, but is more of my style ... simple," Reed said.
But as Bedell pointed out, the event is not a competition.
"Nobody's judging," Bedell said. "It's just a fundraiser for the Depot so the people that go are helping the Depot, and the people who open their homes are helping the Depot," Bedell said.
Sikeston Depot Museum's Christmas Home Tours will feature four decorated homes plus the Depot from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1.
Free refreshments will be served.
Tickets are $10 and are available at the Depot, Garden Lane Nursery and The Flower Patch, where open houses are also planned.
For more information, contact the Depot at 481-9967.