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Audubon Holiday Home Tour Coming Up | Lifestyle


AUDUBON — Starting to get into the holiday spirit? With commercials on television focusing on gift giving and celebrations being planned, an upcoming event in Audubon may give you a chance to help an area organization and check out some amazing decorations at four local homes.

Audubon’s Holiday Home Tour is planned for Nov. 21, from 1-4 p.m. The event is a fund-raiser for the Audubon County Historical Society. Tickets for the tour are $10 and it will start at the Nathaniel Hamlin Museum, located at 1891 215th Street. Other homes include the Stuart Mansion at 301 East Division Street and the Randy and Karen Nelsen home at 206 First Street. The Taylor Hill Lodge at 1614 Highway 72 will wrap up the tour with refreshments.

The first stop on the tour is the Nathaniel Hamlin House. Built in 1890 as a place for injured Civil War Soldiers, it became a place of refuge for the poor and handicapped. The house has been refurbished and preserved over the past several years. Now it is decorated for the holidays and ready for the tour.

Nicki Wiederstein, with the Audubon County Historical Society, noted that while the Nathaniel Hamlin Park and Museums have been open to the public for tours for some time, this is the first time it has been open for a holiday day tour.

Wiederstein said that funds raised at the event would benefit the historical society, for things like a historical project underway in Exira. The museum in Exira, located in the old courthouse, is in the process of moving to a new location.

The foundation of the old courthouse is failing and the building is unsafe, so items from the museum were moved to a church nearby.

“We purchased the church,” Wiederstein said, and will be moving the museum there. She explained that the first church in Exira had been located there, but that one burned down. The current church replaced it, and it has its ties to Nathaniel Hamlin — Wiederstein said Hamlin’s wife was instrumental in starting the church. The historical society recently put $120,000 into work on the house at the Nathaniel Hamlin park. It included things like tuck pointing, new windows and doors, a new porch and more. The building also needs a heating and cooling system, so more donations are still needed.

All four of the houses that the tour includes have strong historical significance.

For example, a home built in the Craftsman style is among the stops on the tour, and is located at 206 First Avenue. This home was built in the late 1910’s by Lois Stuart Ashby who was the granddaughter of Captain Charles and Lois Stuart. Randy and Karen Nelsen purchased the home in 2017 from Lorraine Hansen-Knudsen who had lovingly cared for the home since 1974. For over two years the Nelsen’s worked on bringing the house to code, building an attached mudroom/garage space and adding a few modern touches. Although updating and remodeling have been done, the original hardwood floors, woodwork, doors, and hardware are still in use in the main part of the house. Families have shared over 100 Christmases at 206 First Avenue. The Nelsen’s look forward to making memories in their home. They are very grateful to share their home with visitors as they enjoy the season and all the wonder that it brings.

Another home with ties to the Stuart family is the Stuart Mansion on East Division Street in Audubon.

At the end of the tour, refreshments and a tour of what was once a dairy barn are waiting for you.

Charles Taylor (Chuck) Manatt found a creative way to save his grandfather’s turn-of-the-century barn near Audubon. Having served three generations, the barn stood as a reminder of the place where cows were once milked and hay was hoisted into its loft. The dairy business was shuttered long ago, but the commanding barn was built to last and ready for its next chapter.

Manatt had a strong desire to save Grandpa Taylor’s barn, and the Manatts, along with farming partners, Donna and Ted Bauer, and with help from family friend and local contractor, Tom Testroet, renovated the barn into a modern bed and breakfast with Midwestern charm. In just a year the barn was transformed into Taylor Hill Lodge.

Tickets are $10 each and are available at the door at the Nathaniel Hamlin Park or at the Audubon State Bank or Landmands Bank.

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