Victoria Preservation Inc. 25th Historic Homes Tour is April 9-10


April 4, 2011 at 6:04 p.m.
Updated April 3, 2011 at 11:04 p.m.

Dr. John Kisalus and his wife, Virginia, aren't the first people to live in their large white home at 601 W. North St., but the self-proclaimed history buffs can tell you a little about the people who were.

"Our house was built by the Tatton family in 1937," John Kisalus said. "Then, it was owned by the Murphy family from 1949 until we purchased it in 2005. It's been around for a long time."

The 25th Victoria Preservation Inc. Historic Homes Tour is April 9-10, and the Kisalus family has two homes on display - the North Street site and another at 1505 N. Vine St.

Pre-sale tickets are available for $12 at several locations, and tickets go for $15 the days of the tour.

This year's event, dubbed "Vine Street Vista," includes six homes, three of which sit on Vine Street.

Tour-takers receive a map at the beginning of the event and drive to the various homes, said Gary Dunnam, executive director of Victoria Preservation Inc. Once there, a docent leads the group through the home, pointing out furnishings, architecture and other points of interest.

"People are very curious about how other people live," he said. "I think that, through the years, this tour has really satisfied lots of curiosities."

The tour typically lasts three to four hours.

Homes on the tour are selected mainly because of their appeal to the public, Dunnam said. Not every one qualifies for a historical marker because of alterations, but they maintain Victoria's historic feel.

The family who owns the John M. Fulks House at 604 N. Vine St., for instance, replaced the building's wooden exterior with hearty plank, added energy-efficient windows and more.

"When people go inside, I think they will be amazed," Dunnam said. "They really have done a phenomenal job with the house.

And the event brings a boost to Victoria's economy.

Dunnam said the historic homes tour draws people from as far away as Boston and Greenville, Miss. Visitors eat at Victoria restaurants, shop at stores and stay in hotels, he said.

"That money rolls over and over and over after it's spent," he said, noting that between 700 and 1,300 people typically attend.

People with homes on the tour also spend money updating paint jobs, working on landscaping and more, Dunnam said.

"I tell people, 'If you commit to put a house on the tour, you will be amazed how much you will get done,'" he said with a laugh. "When people have a deadline, all of those to-do lists get completed."

Kisalus learned that last point first-hand as he worked on his properties. On March 25, he busied himself building an arbor behind his North Street home, while refinished flooring dried inside the Vine Street house.

"With that one, we'll be fighting to get it all done before the tour," he said during a break from his work. "But I think we'll be fine."

Kisalus admitted it takes patience, care and a bit of hard work to keep an older house up, but he said he enjoys it.

"What you end up with, in my opinion, is better than anything you could build," he said. "You can't build history."



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