The small town of West Unity is busy with excitement and anticipation of the Christmas season. The West Unity Omnibus Club is presenting their 24th Annual Christmas House Walk and Craft Show, “Dreaming Of A White Christmas on Saturday, December 1st.
The club is featuring 6 destinations for your viewing this year! We begin by visiting the renovated Oberlin & Turnbull Funeral Home, Rev. Julia & Todd Ronngren (United Methodist Parsonage), Fred & Ann Spicer, the Living Hope Free Methodist Church, Lloyd & Joline Bowman, and Scott & Mindy Stuckey’s home. We invite you to visit all these wonderful places and enjoy their Christmas decorations.
The cost to view 4 homes, the funeral home, and the church is $5 and you can purchase your ticket at the West Unity Kissell Building, located in the park, at 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. that day. Pre-sale House Walk tickets are available at the Holly Jolly Christmas Shoppe in West Unity or Fremont, Indiana. Viewings begin at 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
The Kissell Building is filled with crafter booths. We’re sure you will find that special item for your Christmas giving this year! Shopping hours are 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Kissell Building and lunch is available at 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. There is no charge to attend the craft show.
The West Unity Omnibus Club promotes many worthwhile community services to their community. The proceeds from the House Walk and Craft Show are given back to the community into various projects.
The Club members would like to extend a “Welcome” and “Thank You” to the homeowners, craft booth exhibitors and You, the participants. Without your interest and support, this venture would not be possible.
THE OBERLIN & TURNBULL FUNERAL HOME
202 N. Liberty St. West Unity, OH
This beautiful Victorian style home was built around the turn of the 20th century. It served as the John Hollington home until purchased by Herman Beach in 1936 for use as a funeral home. In 1944 Mr. E. Pat Hollingshead and his wife Alta purchased the funeral home following the death of Mr. Beach. An ambulance service ran out of the funeral home until the county’s EMS was established.
Mr. Hollingshead’s son, Bill, joined the family business in 1949. Another son, Ralph, joined the family establishment and served the community from 1958-1963. Bill and Mary Hollingshead ran the business after the retirement of Pat in 1966.
In 2001 Bill and Mary decided to retire and sold the business to L. Lamont “Monte” Beck and the home became known as Hollingshead-Beck Funeral Home. In 2008 Mr. Beck sold the funeral home to Alan Orr.
In February, 2012, Oberlin-Turnbull Funeral Homes purchased the funeral home. Extensive remodeling has been done to the facility.
The funeral home features many of the original elements of the Victorian era while incorporating many updated features. The wide woodworking, pocket doors, five-panel door, formal arches, and fireplace add an aura of the past. Other features include a newly remodeled chapel, family room, added parking, and more outdoor lighting are only a few of the updated conveniences. The owners and staff of Oberlin-Turnbull thank you for taking the time to visit their facility.
REV. JULIA & TODD RONNGREN
(United Methodist Parsonage)
709 E. Jackson St. West Unity, OH
This home is the parsonage of the West Unity United Methodist Church. It was built in the early 1960’s by Aaron Ruihley. The church bought the home in 1982. Rev. Julia Ronngren, with her husband (Todd) and her parents (Mary and Herb Hilliker) moved into this house at the end of June 2012. (Her father, Herb, passed away in mid-August.)
Pastor Julia’s mom, Mary, has an extensive collection of nativities. Numbering well over 100, they are from all over the world, representing many different styles and cultures. These are displayed each Christmas season on shelves and surfaces lit with Christmas lights.
Mary and Pastor Julia have, for many years, collected ornaments as well. Each of the 5 Christmas trees are abundantly covered with ornaments and lots of lights. Many of the ornaments are quite old, some are hand-crafted, and all are unique and have some kind of ‘story’ or emotional significance. All the nativities, trees, wall-hangings, and a very nice Santa collection are displayed amongst Christmas lights in an atmosphere of “home-y-elegance”.
The Ronngren/Hilliker home deeply values their family histories, and has several interesting pieces of furniture and family heirlooms. They have some furniture and clocks that came by ship with family members when they first immigrated to America, 2-3 generations ago. Pastor Julia’s family came here much earlier!
One piece of interest in their home is the beautiful old pump organ, which dates back to the 1880’s. Julia’s great-grandfather, Rev. Joseph Pengelly, was a Methodist Circuit-Rider preacher for the Dakota’s and across into Upper Michigan. When he went into ministry, he went to the Packard Company and purchased the organ, taking it with him by covered wagon to provide music for worship services. In these years, he married and had several children, including Julia’s grandmother, Eleanor Hilliker. After Rev. Pengelly’s children were grown and married, in about 1916, he sold the organ but nobody knows to whom. This organ was out of the family and no one knows who owned it or where it “lived” for 53 years!
In 1969, when Pastor Julia was a child, her family moved into an old Victorian-style house that had once been living quarters for a lumber camp in Northern Michigan. Mary (Julia’s mom) wanted an old antique organ for the house, so Herb put out the word. Before long, he was contacted by a friend and they went to look at it, knowing NOTHING about its history; they bought it. As they moved it into the house, some papers fell out of the backboard of the organ. One of Julia’s sisters saw them and pulled them out to look at them. They were the deed and purchase contract stating that this organ had been sold to Rev. Joseph Pengelly by the Packard Company of Chicago! Having been out of the family for 53 years, it had ‘come home’ to its original family. It needs new bellows, but was played as recently as the 1990’s.
The Christmas decorations are extensive, but we believe that when Jesus Christ was born – The Light of the World, God-in-flesh, our Savior, our only TRUE hope – our lives were totally and forever changed. As we celebrate His birth, the transformation of our house is symbolic of that change. HE made ALL things new; we make ALL things “Christmas’! We’d love to have you come and share in our celebration this year during the West Unity Christmas House Walk!
FRED & ANN SPICER
11569 County Road 21, West Unity, OH
The home located on 11569 County Road 21 is owned by Ann and Fred Spicer. It is a manufactured house that was purchased by Ann and set on the property she owned in September of 1997.
It is a four bedroom, 2 bathroom, and a full basement that has been partially finished. In April 2008 Ann married Fred and he became a homeowner with her. Since the marriage they have added some new features to the house but they say “it is still a work in progress.”
Ann is an avid Boyds Bear and Doll collector. She hasn’t counted her collection in several years but she believes it is approximately around 6000 to 8000 pieces. When people come to her house for the 1st time they just stop and stare at her collection.
Fred is an avid Mark Martin Nascar collector. He has followed Mark’s career from the beginning and he has a very extensive car collection. He has built a very large wall unit in the garage to hold his cars. Ann says to give it another year or two and it will become Fred’s man cave.
This summer Ann and Fred upgraded the flooring and carpet throughout much of the house. Ann painted all the rooms which had been white since the house was built and purchased.
There will be a Christmas tree in the “bear room” solely decorated with bears. The other rooms will correspond with the paint colors in each room.
The couple have many Christmas decorations throughout the house and they hope you will come out and see them. You will enjoy seeing their extensive bear and car collections!
WEST UNITY FREE METHODIST CHURCH
Known as “Living Hope Free Methodist”
1051 W. Jackson St. West Unity, OH
The West Unity Free Methodist church was an outgrowth of the Montpelier FM church in the early 1950’s with the Sunday School classes being held at a private home at first. The first service in the newly built church at 603 W. Jackson St. was December 1953. The church was designed to meet the individual needs of the whole person, and it has always been the primary objective to reach out to the community in friendship, caring concern and love.
The original church was built with sacrificial labor by church members who were from West Unity. Some of these names may be familiar to you: (Ernest Bowers, Art Shambarger, Charles Sickmiller, Marion Roose, and Lowell Edge). The church was dedicated on June 27, 1954. At that time these were the charter members – Ernest and Thelma Bowers, Irene Armbruster, Donna and Lowell Edge, Mr. and Mrs. Marion Roose, Mr. and Mrs. Art Shambarger. Some of the pastors over the years have been, Charles Sickmiller, Ray Altman, Walter Orr, Erwin Berhens, Nick Woodall, Mike Childs, Jim Williams, Peter Kadar, John Wommer, and the present Pastor Dave Mathis.
In April of 2012 a new building was completed and April 30th and May 1st they moved their congregation to their new location at 1051 W. Jackson St. The church was built by Scherer Construction company using all local sub-contractors as well as Cornerstone Flooring of Pioneer for kitchen cabinets, and all flooring throughout the building. A crew of church members did all the painting and cleaning as well as writing scripture on the concrete floor before the flooring was laid so that every step we take in the building is under laid with God’s Word.
The platform area of the church has the original altar and communion table that was refinished by Dave Rummell. The oak crosses in the center peaks of the fellowship room were made by Terry Scherer. The office furniture was donated by Sauder Woodworking.
This is the first phase of the architectural design. As the church grows and is able there will be an addition to the north of the church that will be a permanent 300 seat sanctuary for worship. The overall existing building is for multi-purpose activities to best serve the ministries of this church.
We welcome you to visit our service which begins at 9:30 for Sunday School, 10:15-10:45 fellowship time and 10:45 worship service. There is Sunday evening service held at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday morning women’s bible study at 10 a.m., Tuesday evening service at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday kid’s programs from toddlers through 8th grade at 6:30 and high school at 8:00 p.m. Many individual small group sessions are held throughout the week in homes. For more information contact the church office Tues., Wed., and Thursday mornings from 9 till noon. 419-924-2542.
LLOYD & JOLINE BOWMAN
10901 US Rt. 127, West Unity, OH
The home of Lloyd and Joline Bowman was built in 1875 by William Swisher. He and his wife had 10 children. At that time, he owned 600 acres. The farm now consists of 275 acres.
Bricks for the house were made west of the house, across the creek.
The late Charles Zuver, who was a classmate of Lloyd’s, wrote in a letter that his grandfather (also, Betty Renard’s), William Henry Zuver, and Williams father, walked from Kunkle to work on the house, then walked back to Kunkle after work. They were stone masons.
The walls of the house are three brick on the outside and two brick on the inside walls. Slate for the roof of the house and barn were hauled in by horse and wagon from Stryker.
The house has a large attic which is one room with a 13 ½ foot high ceiling. There are different angles for drainage. One owner even had square dances up there. Lloyd and his friends played basketball in the attic. Lloyd had made the attic (besides storage) into a mini-museum with antiques and articles from his dairy processing plant. The attic will be shown if one is able to climb all the stairs.
In the upstairs there are five bedrooms and a bath. The Bowman’s had eight children so the rooms were full when they were home.
All the rooms upstairs had a separate wood burning stove to keep the rooms warm.
Downstairs there are five rooms, plus a bathroom. There are many doors and windows. Some of the woodwork is the original.
There are four rooms in the basement which houses the wood burning furnace, wood room, laundry room, and ping pong room. One occupant ran a bootlegging business in the basement years ago, but he was caught and did jail time.
On display above the kitchen cupboards are different Bowman’s Dairy milk bottles. Many of the West Unity people remember the wonderful Bowman’s Dairy Bar, when a dip of ice cream was only five cents!
In the last few years, the Bowman’s have remodeled the house as it was originally, with the high ceilings and windows and large bay window in the living room.
We are sure you’ll enjoy is historic home of Lloyd and Joline Bowman.
SCOTT & MINDY STUCKEY
09886 US Rt. 127, West Unity, OH
The Mr. & Mrs. Scott & Mindy Jo Stuckey home is situated on 6 picturesque areas with two crown jewels. The first jewel is the 1800’s Oliver family cemetery towards the back of the property. The cemetery is lovingly taken care of by Mindy, including flowers planted between each of the grave markers. She is in the process of doing research on the cemetery and has found many interesting things about the people buried there.
The second crown jewel is, of course, the beautiful home built in the late 1800’s. Scott and Mindy purchased their dream home from Mark and Paulette Polley in November of 2010. Mindy has had a wonderful time decorating the home by painting, planting flowers and a garden. Her favorite thing to do is decorative painting which she also does professionally. The home is decorated in an old world, Victorian fashion with a Tuscan twist. The front entrance has beautiful Victorian décor with walls painted to look like hand carved wood panels complete with a metal door painted to look like Honduran mahogany.
The tree is decorated Victorian style with a beautiful flocked and lighted garland over the door. Upon entering the kitchen you will feel that you have walked into Tuscany, Italy as the walls are painted to look old, complete with a mural painted by local artisan, Linda Roberts.
The next room to enter is the living room that has a log cabin feel complete with a floor to ceiling stone fireplace and cathedral ceilings. There is also a balcony with a small tree and garland. Beside the balcony is a shelf with three little snowmen and an old antique sled that was used by Scott’s Grandma when she was a little girl.
Then the large bath has a whimsical tree with multi colored ornaments and another mural painted by Mindy’s sister. Upon exiting the bathroom you will walk into another family/living room where the walls were painted in a finish Mindy invented herself that she calls Tumbled Marble.
All the rooms have custom window treatments made by her sister Kim. The home has many antiques including a corn husker in the living room, and old wet sink in the kitchen given to Mindy by her husband and a Sellers cabinet once owned by her grandmother. In the dining room there is an antique china cabinet from Mindy’s grandma not to mention many other antiques throughout the house. Mindy has a funny way of decorating, but somehow it all seems to come together.
Scott and Mindy are excited to be on the Christmas House Walk this year and welcome you into their home.