Metro-East Living

Charles King home is part of 23rd Annual Candlelight House Tour

Frosted candleholders decorate the kitchen of a 1951 Charles King home. It will be one of eight homes in Swansea and Belleville that are part of the 2016 Candlelight House Tour on Sunday.
Frosted candleholders decorate the kitchen of a 1951 Charles King home. It will be one of eight homes in Swansea and Belleville that are part of the 2016 Candlelight House Tour on Sunday.

One of the homes on the 2016 Candlelight House Tour on Sunday is a little more history and a little less holiday.

That’s intentional, say the owner and interior designers who worked on the house.

“It was real simple stuff,” said designer Kelly Arnold, of the 1950s home at 5 Kingsbury Drive in Swansea. “We didn’t want to put stuff in that wasn’t period-correct.”

The Charles King home, commissioned by the Wegener family in 1951, is set as if ready for a holiday party, with holiday candy dishes and other decorative plates in the living and dining rooms, and a coffeepot on the kitchen counter.

Families in the ’50s and ’60s typically decorated only the family room, Kelly said, not as some do today with Santas in the bathrooms.

Keeping the home correct for the time, and decorated for Christmas, was a bit of a challenge. The home will be part of the 23rd Annual Candlelight House Tour on Sunday, sponsored by the St. Clair County Historical Society. It offers a holiday peek inside eight homes in the Belleville area, including one on Signal Hill Boulevard, one on Calypso Drive, three on historic Abend Street and two on Fairway Drive.

Christmas decorations in the mid-century were understated, and the home’s original owners, Otto and Ethel Wegener, enjoyed throwing parties. Some of the decor is a nod to that, including the fondue pot on the living room’s coffee table. The Wegeners had four children, so the only boy got his own room while the three girls shared a space designed by Charles King with three closets.

The home’s second and current owner, Deborah Brennan, 48, loves the mid-century modern look and kept as much of the original home intact as possible, even the heavy “auditorium-style” privacy curtains between the living room and kitchen.

“Most people would have come out here and ripped all this (stuff) out, because they don’t get it,” Kelly said of the home’s original cabinets and bathroom fixtures. “That’s why Christmas decorations are tough to find, too.”

Deborah and Kelly have bought appropriate furnishings, and borrowed an aluminum tree complete with a rotating light that filters green, blue, red and gold onto the tree. Large ornaments hang from the ceiling in front of the dining room window, the couch, and above a blond Haywood Wakefield dresser they’re using as a bar in the living room.

“I just love the ‘funk’ factor,” Deborah said.

Members of the historical society have loaned some items for the house and for the Christmas decor, including the tree and large plastic Santa figures posted next to the fireplace.

Kelly added her own homey touch, too: plastic holly rings that fit around taper candles on the kitchen counter and dining room table.

“These are from my mother’s house, from the ’60s,” she said.

23rd Annual Candlelight House Tour

What: Eight homes in Belleville and Swansea will be open for touring.

When: 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Pick up map/booklet with addresses at the Belleville Philharmonic Hall, 117 N. Jackson St., Belleville.

Cost: $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Buy in advance at, as well as these Belleville locations: St. Clair County Historical Society, 701 E. Washington Street; Grimm & Gorly florist, 324 E. Main St.; Cheesekeeper, 6500 W. Main St.; the Abbey, 5801 W. Main St.; Sandy’s Back Porch Garden Center, 2004 W. Blvd.; and Eckert Florist, 201 W. Main St.

Information: 618-234-0600 or