Clark and Patty Ferry's charming 1880s Millstadt home glows with holiday warmth.
Outside, lights nestled in greenery outline the wraparound porch and frame the old-time exterior.
Inside, Christmas trees in just about every room have themes near and dear to the family that includes daughter Alyssa and son Addison, both college students. A small tree in the cozy upstairs family room is filled with all things soccer. Patty turned logo patches from teams Addison played on into ornaments, too.
Nutcracker ornaments fill another tree. Larger nutcrackers dress up the fireplace mantel.
"When Alyssa was little, she took a liking to this nutcracker," said Patty. "It wasn't special by any means. We let her play with it. How fun. What a great Christmas thing."
That started their collection.
A tall tree in the elegant dining room is filled with delicate Waterford Holiday Heirloom ornaments. Family friend Patti Albert got the collection started. She's the one who introduced Clark and Patty 24 years ago. He was living in the house that had been in his family since 1921, but it looked nothing like it does now.
"In one room, there were four couches," said Patty, "and I think it was the dining room."
"It was a party house back then," said Clark. "We had parties every other weekend."
Since then, the Ferrys have revamped the place from head to toe. In 1995, they added on two bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, a laundry room, an attached garage and remodeled the kitchen. In 1999, they added a family room and front porch.
Patty, a home daycare provider, and Clark, comptroller of George Weis Co., collaborate on ideas.
"I'm handy at design," said Clark, "but I have to pay for help. It takes me forever to do it myself. I know who to call when I need help."
He is proud of the stencil work he created in the bath off the family room. He used drywall compound to create the raised design.
"You pull off the stencil after it starts drying," he said. "It took a couple weeks."
The house is a mix of old and new.
The living room, with Clark's piano full of family photos, mirror decked with greens, and tree with music-themed ornaments, has an old-time feel. Clark was a church organist. So was his mom.
The large dining room has an elegant chandelier and flloor-to-ceiling windows on one end.
"This was originally the master bedroom," said Patty, who grew up in Belleville. "It didn't have the big window there.
"We just had to redo things. We wanted to stay here. It's a great location. The homecoming parade goes right by the house. It turns the corner right here."
At the other end of the house, the kitchen has new Corian countertops, subway tile backsplash and faux paint finish. Behind the kitchen, a TV/bar area with its red leather couch and flat-screen TV is more contemporary. And there's nothing old about the master bath. Its tile floor is heated. Beyond is a huge walk-in closet.
"It's a great house now," said Patty. "We raised two kids here. We still have parties, too." Last summer, Clark invited his Millstadt Grade School class for a 40th class reunion. About 45 showed up.
"Some came from far away," said Patty. "It was so neat. That was the push to get the place finished."
They removed wallaper and painted the living room and dining room.They also pulled up carpeting.
Clark is proud of the house that has been in the family for so long.
"When people come from my single days," he said, "they can't believe it's my house."
What should visitors be sure to see? The porch rail is from the Liederkranz Hall where people would have weddings. "They had an auction when they were going to tear it down," said Clark. "They ripped out interesting parts. It was the upstairs rail. It was a singing society back then, too, Grandma was the accompanist. I am the accompanist for the community choir now."
Do you have a favorite room? "I would say my favorite is the dining room," said Patty. "It's a fun room to entertain. We can fit everyone in and still be comfortable."
What should they be sure to check out? The 40-year-old tool shed. They turned it into a cozy "man cave" for their kids. And the two-car heated garage has another purpose, too. When she opened the door, rows of kiddie cars were lined on either side. "The children can come out in the winter and play," she said.
What comment do you hear about your house? "That they don't realize it's as big as it is from the outside," said Patty. "It's roomer than you think. It goes back."
Any advice for folks thinking of expanding their house? "Some days, I'd say, 'Just build a new one,'" said Clark. Most days, he's thrilled with how his former bachelor pad turned out.
"Find a good builder. We used a local guy, John Gasser, He's the nicest, most patient man."
About the Millstadt Holiday Home Tour
When: 6:15 Friday (sold out) and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7
What: Tour five homes at your leisure
Cost: $10 in advance; $15 day of tour. To purchase in advance, call Laura Schmidt at 476-9451; MCCHomeTour@yahoo.com or pick them up at Millstadt Pharmacy, the Village Hall, Lee's Hardware or Millstadt IGA. On Saturday, purchase at Zion Evangelical Church beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Starting point: Zion Evangelical Church, 117 W. White, Millstadt
Sponsor: Millstadt Community Choir