Historical society host tour of homes

Leslie Arntz

This weekend the Kent Historical Society will open the doors of five homes for a self-guided tour of pieces of the city’s history captured in woodwork and architecture.

“The idea is to get people excited about old homes so we can preserve these and not rip them all down,” said Sandy Halem, president of the Kent Historical Society.

The homes have weathered a century of Ohio winters and avoided encroaching fast food joints and gas stations.

“It gives the town an opportunity to show itself off,” Halem said.

The Historic Homes for the Holidays Tour will feature four homes along West Main Street and a fifth atop a hill on Columbus Street. All are decorated for the holidays.

The tours are self-guided, and visitors may begin at any home. The ticket is a tour booklet that includes a map of each location and a brief history of each home.

Four U.S. presidents have been guests at the Marvin Kent Family Homestead. The Vanags Family Home was rented to the Students for a Democratic Society in the ’70s. The Patton House was rented out as a home for two former Kent State presidents in the ’40s. Each house has a story. And each house has a distinct architectural style — from Victorian Gothic to Federal to Georgian.

“The architecture in older homes is so different from what you see today,” said Dawn Carpenter, vice president of the historical society and event chairperson. “I think (the tour) adds new awareness of the value of restoration.”

Tour hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $10 per person and are available at the Kent Historical Society, Sue Nelson Designs, City Bank Antiques, Home Savings Bank and Portage Community Bank.

Cider and doughnuts will be served at The Black Squirrel Gallery on East Main Street for those on the tour.

Carpenter said she expects 900 to 1,000 guests to visit the homes this weekend. This is the second year for the tour. The first tour, in 2005, stretched across two weekends, and 1,700 came through.

“For $10 it’s great entertainment for the weekend,” Carpenter said.

Contact public affairs reporter Leslie Arntz at [email protected]. Public affairs reporter Kristen Russo contributed to this story.