Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour
home tour expands
to include two stops in Hanover
house was home to
Hanover College founder John Crowe
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(November 2012) For more than 30 years the
Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes has been welcoming
area residents and guests to take a look inside Madison, Ind., residences,
churches and buildings. Visitors enjoy the festive decorations and can
get a glimpse into Christmases past as many of the historic sites take
care to decorate according to the traditions of the homes earliest
Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
Dates: Nov. 23-25; Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Madison, Ind.
Tour Times: 5-9 p.m. Fridays; 3-9 p.m. Saturdays
Tickets: $13.50 and available at the Lanier-Madison
Visitors Center, 601 W. First St., Madison
Organizing Sponsor: VisitMadison Inc.
Information and Tickets: (812) 265-2956 or 1-800-559-2956
on the Tour:
Koleeta Tonkin House, 214 Baltimore St.
St. Johns United Church of Christ, 501 E. Main
Schussler House, 514 Jefferson St.
Schofield House, 217 W. Second St.
The Shrewsbury-Windle House, 301 W. First St.
The Kirk-Webster-Dorsey House, 613 W. Main St.
The Lanier Mansion, 511 W. First St.
Jefferson County Historical Society, Heritage Center,
615 W. First St.
The Gayle and Brenda Liter House, 916 W. Main St.
The Presidents Residence at Hanover College,
554 College Ave., Hanover College Campus.
The Crowe-Garritt House, 172 E. Crowe St.
Science Center at Hanover College
Eggleston School, 419 East St.
Seifert & Short Folk Art & Doll Museum, 113
E. Third St., Madison
Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St.,
This years tour takes place over the weekends of
Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 24-Dec. 1. The tour features 11 private homes and
historic buildings and three hospitality sites. Tour hours are 5 p.m.
to 9 p.m. Fridays, and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays. The tour, organized
annually by VisitMadison Inc., has been expanded this year to include
two stops in nearby Hanover. Among them is a unique peek into history
with the addition of the the 1824 Crowe-Garritt house, 172 E. Crowe
St. It stands as an important piece of history to the Hanover community
and college and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The structure is not only the second oldest house in Hanover, but it
also served as home to the founder of Hanover College, John Finley Crowe,
and as the first post office for the small town.
This is hallowed Hanover ground, says current owner Paul
Keach. Its a wonderful place, and Im glad that we
Keach recalled a story often told about its famous original owner. College
founder and pastor Crowe had a son who married out of favor.
He says that Crowe disapproved of the match, and he wouldnt
turn them out, but he didnt want to make things too comfortable
for them. So Crowes son and his new bride were given quarters
in the dirt floor basement.
For the first 94 years of the homes existence, it remained in
the Crowe family, first owned by John Finley Crowe and later his son-in-law,
Dr. Joshua Bolles Garritt. During that time, the house served not only
a beloved family residence but also a gathering place for alumni when
they returned for visits and reunions.
The house eventually passed out of the family, and in 1979 the historic
property faced demolition. Former Hanover faculty member Robert Ireland
stepped in to help save the property, and a group of Hanover residences
formed the non-profit Friends of the John Finley Crowe House.
They started and what they did was they sold shares for $50 a
share. When we came up with extra money, we would buy a share or two,
When renovation plans called for a portion of the home to be torn down,
the Keach family pledged the money to preserve it intact. In light of
the familys support of the renovation project, Keach and his late
wife, Serena, were given the option to purchase the property and they
wound up completing the renovations and moving in to the house in 1984.
Its a labor of love. Theres a lot of blood, sweat
and tears in this house, Keach says.
The outside is just as it was, he says, and reports that
the home maintains original siding as well as some of the original windows.
Im really proud of what we did here.
Crowe-Garritt home at Hanover
College is on the National Registry.
In addition to having a love of historic preservation,
the Keach family also holds strong Hanover ties. Both Paul and Serena
were graduates of the college, and Pauls father taught there for
about 30 years.
Keach estimates that 7,000 people have visited the home in the years
he has lived there and reports that he is on his fourth or fifth guest
book. He is pleased to open the home for the Christmas tour saying,
It needs to be seen. It is a work of art.
A second stop in Hanover will be the home of Hanover College President
Dr. Sue DeWine and her husband, Mike. It is located at 554 College Ave.
Constructed in 1952, the current Presidents Home was a gift to
the President from William H. Donner, an alumnus who tragically died
just one year after its completion.
The tour also includes several stops in downtown Madison and three hospitality
sites along the route.
The Madison sites include the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site and
the Jefferson County Historical Societys Heritage Center, featuring
a model train display by the Hanover Model Train Club.
Marci Jones, coordinator for the Christmas tour, says, I think
a lot of people make it an important holiday tradition.
She says that many families use the tour as a way to kick off their
own holiday season and will bring in family and guests from out of town
to enjoy the sights.
Jones said she expects the event to draw between 2,500 and 3,000 guests.
She said it takes about 200 volunteers to staff the private homes over
the tour weekends, and she invites area residents who are interested
in taking part to contact her to learn how to get involved. While the
historic sites provide their own staff and volunteers to serve as guides,
the individual homes require hosts to welcome visitors and share information
about the houses.
Tickets are $13.50 and may be picked up at the Lanier-Madison Visitors
Center, 601 W. First St. When picking up their tickets, guests are also
invited to enjoy the return of the Great Cookie Caper and pick up a
box of homemade cookies with proceeds benefiting the Big Brothers, Big
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