Decking homes for the holidays

News photo by Emily Thiel Andrea Speck's home is the featured house on the Exeter Woman's Club Holiday House Tour 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.
News photo by Emily Thiel Andrea Speck's home is the featured house for this year's Exeter Woman's Club Holiday House Tour.

The Exeter Woman’s Club Holiday House Tour is welcoming the community to get into the spirit of holiday decorating.

The season is upon us as the Exeter Woman’s Club prepare for the 16th annual Holiday House Tour with celebrations of home decorations.

The Holiday House Tour will be held 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 and is a tradition within the community of Exeter. The tour of fully decorated homes in the area is great holiday inspiration.

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This year, there are seven houses on the tour.

“It’s the most we’ve had in the past couple years,” Exeter Woman’s Club Vice President Andrea Speck said about the homes.

Speck’s house, located at 508 N. 25th St., Exeter, was built in 1921 and is the featured home this year. Speck moved to the home in March and this is the first year she is participating in the tour.

“I love decorating and I love Christmas,” Speck said with excitement, filling her home with red and green decorations. She has been donning the interior of the house since mid-October. Speck’s single brick colonial home features a double living room with a brick fireplace decorated with greenery. A live tree is fully decorated, complete with a train at the base.

Also, the featured house will showcase “June’s Dream House.”

June Schlessler was a lifetime member of the Woman’s Club. After she passed away, her doll house was donated to the club to be raffled off.

Raffle tickets for the doll house will be available at Speck’s home. After the tour, the doll house will be on display at the Exeter Community Library.

Complete with home furnishes, decorations, and even electricity, the doll house is valued at over $2,000.

The drawing of the raffle will be held at the Exeter Woman’s Club spring fashion show held at the Reading Country Club on March 15. The proceeds from the doll house will be donated to the Exeter Community Library.

The home of Gail and Peter DiBlasi, 14 Rimby Way, Exeter Township, will have a speciality “Bake Your Christmas Merry” baked goods basket to raffle.

The DiBlasi family home will feature a large Christmas tree in the living room, and an array of poinsettias surrounding the fireplace complete with a manger. Refreshments will be served around their fire pit on the patio.

Allison and Rich Broadbent’s residence of 225 Parkview Ave. offers a five room home, where the front porch features a Christmas tree to welcome guests. The Broadbent’s home also includes a pond and garden available to tour. The Broadbent home has a display of Nutcrackers, Santas, Nativities, snowmen and a Christmas putz.

Howard and Dottie Stolfzfus’ home, 820 Oleyline Road, Douglassville, will feature professional musicians at their 18th century stone farm house for visitors to enjoy. A restored Colonial grist mill is also located on their property, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The mill dates back to 1750 and is part of the property.

The Stolfzfus’ house offers a scenic view of Oley Valley.

Another house on the tour is Lori Castor’s residence. When visitors tour Castor’s home at 118 N. 25th St., they will visit the front floor entering the front door and exiting the rear door to see the courtyard. The Castor residence is a Spanish type home; the bathroom is decorated with Spanish tile, and all interior walls have stucco.

The true Pennsylvania Dutch will be drawn to the residence of Elaine Vardjan, 350 Limekiln Road, Reading. The Vardjan home is an early 1800s German built stone farm house. Elaine and her late husband were members of the Reading Berks Guild of Craftsmen, and the home is decorated with Pennsylvania German family antiques, as well as original works by Berks County craftsmen. On the tour, visitors will see Elaine’s print shop and many German starts throughout the house.

John and Patti Maravich’s home at 123 Old Friendensburg Road is an original farmhouse and barn build by the Gonser family in 1847. Since then, many renovations have been made to the main house to restore it with original character. At the Maravich’s house, Christmas trees enhance every room. A holiday movie will be showing in the basement.

Around 400 tickets have been printed for the tour, which are available for sale at Boscov’s, Exeter Community Library, and Charcoal Chef. Tickets should be purchased in advance.

In addition to their holiday home tour, the Exeter Woman’s Club decorate the Reiffton trolley bus stop year round, raise money for Relay For Life, donate items to women in crisis and fundraise for the community.

“We do whatever we can to help out,” Speck said. “It looks like we will have a good turnout.”

All houses on the tour will have cookies, some will have light refreshments.

The tour is on-your-own and the homes do not have to be visited in a specific order.

The Woman’s Club asks that guests refrain from using cameras, cell phones, smoking, bringing food or drinks into the homes, wearing spiked heels or bringing strollers. The Exeter Community Library will be open for use of the restroom from noon to 3 p.m.

Come out for the mistletoe, eggnog and cookies to rope you into the holiday spirit this Sunday.

About the Author

Emily Thiel

Emily Thiel is the editor of The Southern Berks News and is the Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Emily joined Berks-Mont in March 2013. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2011 with a degree in English with a concentration in Cultural and Media Studies. Emily is a native of Allentown, Pa. Reach the author at ethiel@berksmontnews.com or follow Emily on Twitter: @sthrnberksnews.