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Unique Marion homes on display this weekend

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

For anyone who has driven past a beautiful or interesting-looking home and wished you could see what’s inside, this Sunday you may get your chance.

For the 59th year, St. Paul Catholic Parish has picked several unique Marion homes for the public to tour in its St. Paul Home Tour.

The tour operates open-house style. Ticketholders can stop by and walk through the four featured homes anytime from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday, Sept. 16.

Three of this year’s homes are new to the tour – the Cline-Arrendale home at 4604 Star Drive, the Smith home at 1308 Sheridan Road and the Graham home at 710 W. Spencer Ave. The Fortney home at 2302 N. Miller Ave. was featured many years ago and returns to the tour for the second time this year.

Tour organizer Carol Hamilton said the tour sometimes includes five homes, but the committee this year felt that because the Fortney home actually includes two buildings, there was plenty for tourgoers to explore at the selected houses.

Cindy Fortney said the second building on their property is new since the last time her and Phil Fortney’s home was part of the tour.

It was originally built as a place for Phil Fortney’s parents to live. “They have since passed, so we’ve turned it into a man cave,” Fortney said.

Visitors to Fortney’s home will get to see Fortney’s unique clown collection.

“I always had a thing for clowns because they always make you smile, they make you laugh,” Fortney said. As people have gifted them to her over the years, she’s built up a collection of small clown dolls.

Fortney said one of the things she’s most eager to display is a bedspread her mother crocheted for her.

“It took her over 10 years to make it,” said Fortney. “I’ve always kept it on a coat rack because I’m worried I’m going to soil it.”

The tour’s proceeds pay for improvements and maintenance of McCarthy Hall, a community space that is located on the parish property but is often rented out and used for community events.

Hamilton said it’s fitting that the money goes to McCarthy Hall, which brings community members onto the parish campus, because the tour too is a way for the church to engage the community.

“It’s an outreach, we feel, for St. Paul’s into the community,” Hamilton said. “That’s why we’ve stuck by it and done it for 59 years.”

Although the parish doesn’t have a specific project in mind for the funds, the money raised will be used for whatever renovations are needed over the next year, Hamilton said.

Hamilton estimates between 250 and 300 people will attend the tour this year, but said they’ve had as many as 750 participants in the past.

Tickets can be purchased for $8 until the end of the day today at the St. Paul School Office at 1009 Kem Road (school parents only), at St. Paul Rectory at 1031 Kem Road, at the office of Dr. Melvin Frecker, optometrist, at 1402 Spencer Ave., at Kelly’s The Florist at 4009 S. Western Ave. and at Balloons, Flowers and Gifts at 102 W. Main St., Gas City.

More tickets will be on sale for a limited time at Needler’s Fresh Market, 1013 N. Forest Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased at the tour homes the day of the tour for $10.

Hamilton emphasized that the tour will involve plenty of walking and those attending should wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.

Fortney said she is looking forward to opening her home up for the tour.

“Having strange people go through our home – I don’t really think of it that way. I like to think of them as visitors that I hope will be blessed by something they see,” Fortney said.