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    The house of Andy and Amber Smith at 401 Timber Ridge Lake Road which is featured in the 2019 Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Club’s annual Tour of Homes event. (Contributed photo)

53rd Tour of Homes set for Wednesday

Five locations will be continuing a 53-year long tradition in Graham with the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Club’s annual Tour of Homes event Wednesday.

CLSC began in Graham in 1911, and was formerly know as the Chautauqua Reading Circle in 1878, according to a 2011 article from The Graham Leader. The club made the determination in 1912 to start a public library in Graham because one did not exist at the time. The club still honors the Library of Graham, which is currently located at a facility purchased with funding provided by the Bertha Foundation, by donating the funds raised from the annual Tour of Homes event each year. The club today has about 35 members and the event has been a fundraising tradition for the club according to member and chair of the Tour of Homes committee Peggy Sonnenberg.

“What we usually do is have four to five houses or business establishments, we have had some churches on, we have had different businesses on that maybe have redone things,” she said. “One time, we had the chamber when they had finished their remodel we had them on and things like that and we do it as a fundraiser to benefit the library. All of our money goes to the library.”

Since 1966, the event has featured properties on display for the community and this year will include three family homes and the Library of Graham. The homes for this year’s event will be the homes of Donna and Robert Force, 1005 Rolling Hills South, Amber and Andy Smith, 401 Timber Ridge Lake Road, D’Ann Hale, 1326 Fourth St., Kelsey and Ryan Easterling, 817 Brazos St. and the Graham Public Library, 910 Cherry St. Sonnenberg said there are a number of ways the group choose the homeowners for the tour.
“Sometimes they are referred to us, sometimes we just notice a pretty house being built or remodeled,” she said. “It is kind of by word of mouth.”

Each year the houses are usually decorated for Christmas, but the only requirement is each family has a Christmas tree set up in their home. She said people come to the event for different reasons each year.

Tickets are $10 per person and may also be purchased at one of the five locations on the tour. The tour will be from 1:30-5:30 p.m. and those attending the event can visit whichever house they want during that time in any order. The club extended the hours for those who work in the community and Sonnenberg said despite it being a primarily female attended event, there are men who get something from the tour as well.

Donna and Robert Force

The Forces have called Graham their home for 23 years, according to a press release from CLSC. In 1999, the family bought their home on Rolling Hill South and over the past 20 years have made renovations accommodating their own style. The Forces are the owners of the two Subway restaurants in Graham and an additional eight other Subway restaurants across the state. The Forces have one son, Cameron, 24.

Amber and Andy Smith

The Smiths are natives of Graham and have two daughters, Madalyn, 18, and Abbigail, 12, according to a press release from CLSC. Andy is a salesman for Southern Bleacher and Amber is a Personal Assistant for Muriel Stephens. She is the third generation in her family to have her home featured in the CLSC Christmas Tour, with her mother, Sherry Ford, and her grandmother, Joyce Boydson, preceding her.

D’Ann Hale

D’Ann Hale has owned her own professional photography business for 25 years, but according to a CLSC press release is newer to Graham. Her home built in 1937 is set up for the tour for Christmas photos and the backwoods area for children to spend time with Santa. There will be six decorated Christmas trees along with other Christmas decorations.

Kelsey and Ryan Easterling

Ryan and Kelsey Easterling have lived in Graham for a little over a year, according to a press release from CLSC. Both were raised in Mexia and moved to Graham from Fort Worth with their twin 18-month-old daughters, Lily and Layla. Ryan is a family practice physician for Graham Medical Associates.

Library of Graham

The Library of Graham location will be hosted by Library Director, Sherry Gibson, who has been with the library in Graham for 30 years and was promoted director in 2000, according to a press release from CLSC. Gibson moved from Midland to Graham in 1972 to raise her children and spends her free time with her six grandchildren. The library will decorated and have a collection of Santas and a collection of older Christmas books for children.

For the full story, see the Saturday, Dec. 7 edition of The Graham Leader.

The Graham Leader

620 Oak Street
P.O. Box 600
Graham, Texas 76450
Phone: (940) 549-7800
Fax: (940) 228-0589