Clayton Ridge annual Holiday Tour of Homes

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The Kuhse Home, located at 203 S. Benton St., Garnavillo. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

The annual Holiday Tour of Homes, the Clayton Ridge freshman class fundraising event, is set to take place on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 1-5 p.m.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from any Clayton Ridge High School freshman, at the door of each participating home, church or business, or by calling the school at 563-252-2341.

The holiday tour will include two area businesses: Ole's Five-Star Realty located at 431 S. Highway 52, Guttenberg and The Corner Shoppe located at 107 S. Main St., Garnavillo. 

Three Garnavillo churches will also open their doors to visitors: St. Joseph Catholic Church, 204 W. Oak St.; St Paul's Lutheran, 104 S. Adams St. and St. Peter Lutheran Church, 301 N. Adams St. 

Organizers shared, "We are offering something new and different by having a tour of churches in Garnavillo. This will give ticket holders an opportunity to see the churches decorated for Christmas. St. Joseph's Catholic Church will have an organist playing the pipe organ all afternoon."

Bockenstedt/Bazyn house

800 Acre St., Guttenberg 

Diane Bockenstedt and Paul Bazyn began building their dream home in October of 2018 and completed the project the following June. 

The couple told The Press, "We put a terrific amount of thought into the home's design. We wanted a stick-built house and chose Brandon Bries as our contractor."

The three-story home boasts a finished basement, main floor and full loft area filled with unique furniture, woodwork, cabinetry and the couple's many cherished family heirlooms.

"We added plenty of windows to the home to allow the natural light to stream in," Bockenstedt added. 

The house sits on three acres and provides the homeowners with picturesque views of scenic Clayton County. 

Bockenstedt explained her decorating style. "I call the downstairs rustic, rustic, the main floor rustic and the upstairs rustic, too," she said with a laugh. "I love the color purple – as you can see," she smiled. 

Visitors will find a real tree on the main level decorated in Bockenstedt's favorite color, a flocked tree in the loft area and a memory tree, filled with cherished ornaments from her former students and the couple's family heirloom decorations. 

Keehner home

203 Skyline Dr., Guttenberg

Sharon and Randy Keehner purchased the next stop on the holiday home tour in 2011.  

The home is a traditional A-frame built in 1975 by Sharon's parents. It includes beautiful views of the Mississippi River, a great room with a 25-foot ceiling, an expansive fireplace, loft, beautiful yard and many unique must-see features.  

The Keehners' remodeled home is cozy and welcoming. The decor  is rustic, creating a lodge feel.  

The couple has built many unique pieces with barn wood, including a pub table out of a windmill from their farm, and an entertainment center built out of barn floor joists and legs from a feed bin. Each room is unique.

Sharon commented, "Christmas has always been a 'big' deal at our home. This year we have chosen a festival of trees theme for the house. There will be a Christmas tree in every room, decorated in all different themes." 

"We hope you enjoy your visit and love the house as much as we do," she concluded. 

Lansing house

103 S. First St., Guttenberg

Kathy Lansing recently purchased her historic brick home on the corner of First and Main Streets in the center of Guttenberg. 

Lansing commented, "The house was built in 1899. I traced it back to the gentlemen who built the home who was a Clayton County official. It was one of the first homes platted by the former Turner Hall." 

Lansing continued, "I purchased the home as a project to create a place from my large extended family to stay for holidays and family reunions."

Research through the Iowa Historical Preservation Society shows the house was stick-built. Lansing explained, "It is referred to as a craftsman bungalow, emphasizing functionality and simplicity, although considered fancier because of the brickwork. It was considered modern for its time." 

Despite its humble component the house still features pocket doors, beautiful woodwork, parlor areas and large bedrooms.  

Lansing's holiday decorations will have a traditional flair. "I have printed off several photos of Christmas homes from the 1900s. The interior will feature homemade decorations, fragrant scents steeped in a pot on the stove and a fresh cedar tree cut from the timber," she shared. 

The  Corner Shoppe 

107 S. Main St., Garnavillo

The Corner Shoppe coffee shop, eatery, and gift shop is one of two businesses participating in the tour. 

The sturdy brick structure has been in Wendy Kuhse's family for generations. Kuhse shared the building's history: "It was built in 1880. My great-grandfather bought it in 1936. It was originally a hardware store, and at one time housed The Garnavillo Outlook, Garnavillo's local newspaper. It held a kindergarten room, a dress shop and in more recent years a flower shop."

Visitors are invited to stop in, take a break, and browse the shop's eclectic mix of useful one-of-a-kind items, or enjoy a beverage and a bite to eat.

Kuhse House

203 S. Benton St., Garnavillo 

The stately brick home owned by Wendy and Lanny Kuhse was built in 1910. The expansive home features an open staircase, pocket doors, parquet floors and a built-in hutch with leaded glass windows. 

Wendy described the couple's labor of love. "We took a year and gutted the home. We refurbished all the walls and opened up the home's footprint a little bit," she said.

Visitors to the home will find a laid-back country decorating style, and rooms full of holiday finery each with a separate theme. 

Wendy shared, “Several of the rooms are decorated in a specific theme. I have a room dedicated to our nation’s military, 1950s and 1960s, traditional elegance, and my dining room is decorated in Scottish plaid in honor of my Scottish heritage.”

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