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Monday, June 30th, 2014

Opening doors into history

By Margie Wuebker

Jean Giere looks at a signed and dated piece of plaster found in her historic ho. . .

ST. HENRY - A slice of the community's rich history will be on display Sunday at five locations downtown.
The town's Heritage Club is hosting a historic home tour on Main Street as a fundraiser for its beautification and philanthropic efforts. The event will take place 1-4 p.m. in conjunction with the St. Henry Community Picnic.
Chairwoman Emily Gast-Schlater proposed the idea after receiving numerous inquiries to see the interior of the stately brick home she and her husband, Mitch, are restoring across the street from the local post office. Club members and other homeowners quickly supported the suggestion, she said.
Homes on the tour include,
• 211 E. Main St., west of Hogenkamp Funeral Home, owned by Larry and Judy Heitkamp. The residence was built in 1916 by William Bruns; Lydia Liette formerly lived there.
The Heitkamps purchased it at auction in 1971 for $17,500. They vividly remember their fathers saying, at the time, they had paid too much.
"We were living in the apartment above the funeral home at the time," Judy Heitkamp said. "Every time I sat at the kitchen table and looked out the window I dreamed of owning this house one day."
The couple initially rented out the upstairs to save money for remodeling. The first project was stripping all the doors and woodwork. The last - renovation of the kitchen and dining room - took place in 2006.
"We moved in on a Friday in 1978 and our son made his First Communion on Sunday," she said. "That was quite a week."
• 322 E. Main St., owned by Mitch and Emily Schlater. The Schlaters purchased their house, formerly a dentist office, in December and began remodeling in January. They quickly discovered the home, built by Bernard Romer Jr. in 1884, had little insulation and interior brick walls three courses thick.
"We saw all the things this place could become and set to work," Emily Schlater said. "It has neat architectural elements."
Their next project involves adding a deck in back like one shown in old photographs.
Many longtime residents still refer to the place as Dr. (Edward) Bernard's dentist office and share memories about having teeth removed or filled without Novocaine, she said.
• 411 E. Main St., owned by Tim and Jean Giere. It was built by William Romer in 1908 and appraised for $14,500 in 1911 - 24 years before the village's incorporation.
"We have put so much effort into the house that my husband and I cannot imagine leaving," Jean Giere said. "This place has so much personality."
The house was formerly owned by the Fullenkamp family who operated a popular beer distributing business. The front of the brick structure still contains the original oak woodwork and a fireplace.
Numerous remodeling efforts include a complete kitchen makeover and a new stairway to the upper level.
The Gieres on Sunday plan to display a small portion of a plastered wall they recovered during one of their frequent inside projects. It contains the name "J.A. Romer" - possibly the builder's son - and the date 1908.
• 162 E. Main St., owned by Ryan and Tiarah Delzeith. Built by George Heiser in 1898, the house was once home to Ryan Delzeith's grandmother.
The place has undergone extensive renovation to suit the needs of the couple and their children.
• 272 E. Main St., currently serving as the St. Henry Catholic Church rectory. Gast-Schlater said the committee is delighted to include the rectory in the tour as the parish marks its 175th anniversary this year.
Parishioners hired architect B.F. Mathews of Lima and contractor J.H. Winkeljohn to perform the 1902 building project.
The two-story home, located just east of the church, formerly housed pastors and associate pastors until recently when it was decided to turn the building into office space for the parish staff.
Priests now reside in a rectory near St. Francis Catholic Church in nearby Cranberry Prairie.

Historic home tour in St. Henry:
When: 1-4 p.m. July 6
Featured locations: Tim and Jean Giere, 411 E. Main St.; Mitch and Emily Schlater, 322 E. Main St.; St. Henry Catholic Church rectory, 272 E. Main St.; Larry and Judy Heitkamp, 211 E. Main St.; and Ryan and Tiarah Delzeith, 162 E. Main St.
Presale tickets can be purchased at the St. Henry Bank. Tickets also will be available at the chamber of commerce tent at the St. Henry Community Picnic Friday-Sunday. The cost is $8 per ticket with proceeds benefiting the St. Henry Heritage Club.
Special arrangements include golf cart transportation for visitors unable to walk the quarter-mile stretch of East Main Street. A portion of the street will be closed for the annual car show.
For more information, contact St. Henry Bank, 419-678-2359, or chairwoman Emily Gast-Schlater, 419-852-8675.
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