Dowagiac Chamber previews Home and Garden Tour sites
Published 11:04 am Friday, June 9, 2023
DOWAGIAC — Guests attending the Dowagiac Area History Musem’s Spring Lecture Series finale Wednesday were presented with a sneak peak of an event 32 years in the making.
Eileen Crouse of the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce Home Tour Committee announced the seven properties on this year’s Dowagiac Home and Garden Tour, which is making its triumphant return Saturday, June 24 after a 32-year hiatus.
Crouse and local historian Corey Crocker revealed the homes on this year’s tour, their interesting histories, and some fun facts about the people who lived there.
The tour will feature six homes and one downtown “Upper” apartment.
The homes are as follows:
- The William Vrooman Building, currently known as The Altus; 143 S. Front St.
- The Horace C. and Almira Jones House, currently known as The 1870 House, 306 W. Division St.
- The Joseph C. and Jessie E. (Colby) Searle House, 106 Green St.
- The Joseph B. and Jane Clarke House, 206 Green St.
- The Archibald B. and Amanda Gardner House, known as The Maples, 511 Green St.
- The William F. and Dora B. Hoyt House, 204 West Telegraph St.
- The Arthur K. and Bessie (Rich) Beckwith House, 209 Oak St.
The tour is self-guided and takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is 1.4 miles if walked and there are several locations throughout the tour that offer street parking should people want to drive between groups of homes. Tickets must be purchased to enter the homes.
The tour has been dedicated in honor of Linda Lorenz, the late co-owner of the Gardner House who recently passed away unexpectedly. According to Crouse, the return of the popular Home and Garden Tour was made possible thanks to the efforts of the Home Tour Committee members and several volunteers.
“Individually, we were all thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to bring back the home and garden tour? It was very serendipitous; we started this over a year ago and decided to intentionally take a year to plan because if we tried to rush it would just not get done. We were able to steadily work through each of our concerns, questions and ideas and reach out to different people and get support.”
According to Crouse, the reception regarding the tour has been positive. As of Wednesday night, the tour had pre-sold 120 tickets.
“It’s very gratifying and it’s also a little bit of a relief,” she said. “I thought that there would be interest but I also thought people might wait until the day of to see what the weather was going to be. So to have 120 say I’m gonna go rain or shine was nice to see.”
Crouse added that the home and garden tour showcases the architectural diversity and unique character of Dowagiac.
“That was the thing that struck me when I first moved here,” she said. “It was a little bit of a mystery that a town this size would have Victorian and Romanesque mansions, some spectacular craftsman bungalows and gorgeous mid century and ranch homes. From the 1800s through the 1960s, Dowagiac has an example of all of these different housing styles and they’re so unique. There are no subdivisions with multiples of the same house and lots of different personality because of that. It just gives a town that already has a lot of character yet another level of interesting character to me.”
For Crouse, the documentation of the houses has been an important part of the tour process.
“It’s about the people who live there and why they did and what impact they had on Dowagiac and its history,” she said. “That’s been really fun and interesting. A lot of the research has been looking through old phone books one year at a time and then jumping on ancestry.com and tracking the family down and finding photos and finding out where they went and what where they came from.”
According to Crouse, putting together the tour has been an eye-opening experience.
“As I’ve learned more through the flag project and the home tour project, I’m learning about the rich history of Dowagiac,” she said. “These two passions and experiences with the flag and the home tour, I’ve learned so much about the history and I want to share it and the home tour is one of those ways to share it.”
Advance tickets are available at Cottage Gallery, 126 S Front St., and online at dowagiacchamber.com, under Events and on the Dowagiac Home & Garden Tour page. Tickets are $15 in advance, and $20 on event day. All attendees must check in at the Dowagiac Area History Museum on June 24 to show proof of ticket purchase, or buy tickets, in order to receive the wristband that will allow entry to the tour homes, a list of addresses and tour map.
Individuals interested in volunteering for docent duties, which includes one free ticket, can contact Home Tour committee member Jessica Shank at email@example.com.