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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n14)
Meridian-Kessler 2007 Home Tour - By Reesa Kossoff
posted: Jul. 13, 2007

By Reesa Kossoff

Home and real estate enthusiasts from all across the Indianapolis area put on their walking shoes the weekend of June 24 and 25, 2007, to enjoy the 34th Annual Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association's Home and Garden Tour.
Despite the muggy weather and occasional thunderstorms, hundreds ventured out to catch a rare glimpse of the inside of 10 of the Meridian Kessler neighborhood's most unique and beautiful homes.
The suggested starting place and the undoubted centerpiece of the tour was the home of Jeff Whorley and Lisa Haynes, located at 4245 N. Meridian Street. A colonial revival mansion first erected in 1909, the home tour guidebook describes the Whorley/Haynes residence as "three floors of gracious elegance combined with contemporary whimsy."
Among a number of must see-features, Whorley/Haynes residence boasts a library, solarium, basement with maid's quarters and work out center, a carriage house with a fully furnished two bedroom apartment, newly renovated gardens and a third floor entertainment suite nicknamed "Jeff's retreat". Originally from Las Vegas, Whorley and Haynes furnished most of their home with pieces salvaged from the area's most renowned casinos.
However, the most remarkable feature of the Whorley/Haynes residence, was the luxurious bathroom of the master bedroom suite, which contained a walk- in closet, coffee bar and a free-standing bathtub filled through a spigot located in the ceiling.
Tour organizers emphasized that you don't need to own a mansion in order to be considered for the tour. In fact, the Neighborhood Association strives for a balance of different sizes and gives each prospective home equal consideration.
Two smaller homes that wowed guests happened to be located next to one another on Pennsylvania Street.
Located at 5324 N. Pennsylvania St. is the home of Frank and Patricia Hartman, whose Tudor style home is both elegant and welcoming. The most notable feature of the Hartman residence is a 2001 addition which included a new family room, morning room, walk-in pantry and separate master suite complete with spacious master bath.
Next door at 5330 N. Pennsylvania St. is the home of Jim Strenski and Kathleen Delany. Their traditional home is perfect for their young family. Besides an 1800 square ft. addition completed in 2005, tour-goers marveled at original artwork by Lisa Loudermilk and a spacious backyard visible from large windows in the newly redesigned kitchen.
As one might imagine, months of preparation go into making the home tour a reality. A committee of neighborhood volunteers begins meeting in early January to start planning for the following spring's tour. This year, more than 200 community volunteers, including tour guides, ticket sellers, sign haulers, graphic designers and numerous others were integral in making the tour a success.
"I grew up in the [Meridian Kessler] neighborhood and one day showed up at a [volunteer] meeting," Megan Martin, who has been the home tour's publicity chair for the last two years, said. "Meetings started in January and we met every two to three weeks, every Monday as the event drew closer."
Martin noted that she has been donating at least 10 hours of her time to the home tour for the past several months.
"It's really about supporting the neighborhood," she added.
Some Home Tour volunteers are so dedicated that they have been active participants for almost as long as the home tour has been in existence.
"I'm involved because I can't say no," volunteer Jackie Davis joked, who began working with the Home Tour 29 years ago. "It's great seeing the people. . . and seeing the really interesting things people do with their homes."
The first step for tour organizers is to select the 10 Meridian-Kessler homes that will be featured. Candidate homes can be suggested by members of the tour committee, any member of the Meridian Kessler neighborhood or by the homeowners themselves.
Once a group of candidate homes has been identified, the Home Tour committee considers a number of factors in selecting the final 10 homes. The homes must be spread evenly throughout the Meridian Kessler neighborhood, must represent a variety of sizes and architectural styles and must be able to represent the neighborhood to a wide audience. Furthermore, there can be no repeat homes within five years and all homeowners must be willing and active participants.
Of course, many precautions are taken to ensure that homeowners are comfortable with hundreds of tour-goers walking through their residences. Volunteers are present in every room of the house to ensure that the homeowners' furniture and other possessions are well protected. Tour-goers follow a very controlled route through the home and in cases of inclement weather are required to wear protective booties.
If you missed this year's home tour, no need to fret. The dates for next year's home tour have already been announced and will be held from June 20 through June 23, 2007. To get involved, simply visit the Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association's web site at next January to find instructions on how to become a volunteer.

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