Pumpkin Fest “Historic Tour of Homes”
2019 Historic Homes Tour: The Heart of Sycamore!
Sycamore is a town with a big heart. Sycamore people pull together in adversity and highly value community service. This year’s Pumpkin Fest Historic Homes Tour, sponsored by the DeKalb County History Center (DCHC), will highlight homes of those who have served Sycamore selflessly and who helped build this great community. On Saturday, October 26 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, the event will include tours of six spectacular homes plus our beautiful new History Center. As a bonus, everyone is invited to join stop by Blumen Gardens for some special events to celebrate their 30th anniversary as a business and the 160th anniversary of the railroad coming to Sycamore with a presentation by Clint Cargile, local writer and historian. Tickets for the event will be available beginning October 15 at the DCHC, the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce, and Sweet Earth Gifts or can be purchased the day of the walk at any of the houses.
First on this year’s tour is the striking home at 101 Mason Court. It was built in 1924 for Dr. C. Stuart Cleary, an early doctor who died tragically at the age of 41. It is most widely known, however, for the next owner, Dr. Harold Trapp, a much-beloved doctor who served Sycamore and beyond and was even named Sycamore’s outstanding citizen in 1977. The home is a cozy, dark brick Dutch Colonial, which current owners Kris and Sharon Hajek have done a great job of updating while maintaining its beauty. The simple dark brick exterior, the lovely original floors, and the many personal touches make this a warm and inviting home and a wonderful place to start our tour.
Next is the much-anticipated restored home at 319 Somonauk. Built in 1866 for Dr. Orlando Bryan, this home suffered through years of being cut into apartments and becoming quite run down. It is now beautifully renovated as a single-family home for owners Brad Ziegler and Kristina Karkavatos. Brad has done most of the work himself and saved many of its original features. Dr. Bryan was commissioned as a surgeon for the Union Army in the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln himself! He was Sycamore’s first doctor and the great-grandfather of Dr. John Ovitz, who also served Sycamore for many years.
Continuing the tour, the next stop is at the Edward Safford/Wildenradt family home at 328 Somonauk, built in 1876. One of the first owners, Edward Safford was captain of the 14th Colored Infantry in the Civil War. The Wildenradt family who later owned the house are well known for their contributions to the Sycamore community. This welcoming home features a beautiful front parlor fireplace, an updated kitchen, and many handy built-ins. Current owners Dennis and Diane Liesz have only been there a short time but have already done a wonderful job landscaping the yard and making this house into a comfortable home.
Just down the street stands the stately Queen Anne-style mansion at 420 Somonauk, a perennial favorite of the tour. This home was designed by architect George O. Garnsey c.1880 and is fondly remembered as the Edwards Photography studio with the larger-than-life Indian statue on the front lawn. Built by former mayor, David Syme, a major benefactor of the Sycamore Public Library who also served on the Sycamore school board for many years, this home has seen many layers of restoration. Current owners, Mike and Cecilia Grimson, have really retained the character of the house in their renovations and have enhanced it with the addition of their lovely art collections from around the world. They also provide a great home for many rescued parrots.
Just down the block, don’t miss 464 Somonauk. This home dates from about 1880 and was first built for Daniel Wild, son of early businessman George Wild. Daniel Wild was vice president of the Pierce Trust and Savings Bank and served in Europe during World War I. This large home showcases beautiful inlaid floors and exquisite crown molding throughout. It features an original staircase that you won’t want to miss. Current owners Kevin and Jean Flaherty are continuing to restore this home, which was once cut into apartments, to its previous grandeur. And you will not want to miss their beautiful kitchen!
The striking Italianate home at 813 Somonauk was built in 1880 for Sycamore’s first dentist, Dr. Olin Smith, who served the community for over 60 years. The Smith family was involved in many Sycamore organizations and is considered a real founding family. The home had fallen into disrepair until Margaret Baack restored it in the 1980s. This home has many original features in the front—fireplace, stairway complete with coffin corner, and inlaid floors—and boasts a fabulous kitchen in the back, which was built on during the restoration.
Best of all, ticket holders also get to see firsthand the exciting new DeKalb County History Center at 1730 N. Main and tour the current exhibit Crossroads, Change in Rural America and stop in to see the Joiner History Room’s new home. Come visit with the volunteers and learn about all the programs and partnerships the DeKalb County History Center offers.
Tickets are $25/single or $40/pair. Tickets can be purchased in advance or the day of the Walk. Also, they are still in need of many volunteers to staff the houses. Learn how to earn a free ticket by giving a little time to help showcase these wonderful homes. Call us at 815-895-5762, visit website at dekalbcountyhistory.org, or like the DeKalb County History Center on Facebook for more information.