“This house is like a big hug” are the words that Penny Olson-Langland shared with their realtor as she and her husband, Tom, walked through the front door and then into the parlor at 219 W. North Street.
The Victorian house was built in 1880 by Samuel M. Underwood, and the lot for this home was purchased back in 1865 for a total sum of $100. The Langlands purchased this home, moving in December 2011. Since that time, Penny has painted and coordinated the remodeling and restoring, always with the integrity of the house and its time period in mind.
This lovely home, at 219 W. North St., owned by the Langlands, along with four other homes, will be featured on the 2012 “Home for the Holidays” Housewalk from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23.
An interesting side note to mention is the Langlands lived in Morris about 11 years ago. At that time, their home at 804 Fulton was featured during the Housewalk. Many will remember their children, Oliver and Schyler, who are now grown. Their home now is just down the street from their previous Morris house.
The tour of this warm, comfortable, inviting home starts in the dining room. Since Penny and Tom’s last location was New Orleans, they brought a little of the flavor of the city with them. One of the walls features an 1858 map of the sugar and cotton plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi. A painting of the French Quarter and a water meter cover made into a plate from the city of New Orleans are also part of the décor. Be sure to note the marble fireplaces, both in the dining room and parlor, which are original to this home. In the dining room, as well as throughout the first floor, are 7-foot windows and 12-foot ceilings.
Penny did all the painting in the home except the stairway. When choosing paint, Penny said she goes to the section of traditional colors for Victorian homes, stands and waits until a color seemingly chooses her. Her color choices are wonderful, reflective of the home’s time period but also representative of Penny’s free spirit in decorating.
The front double door entry has a transom above it that opens — like an air-conditioning system of the past. Many of the other doors in the home also have this. The stained mahogany woodwork throughout the house has never been painted, and the floors are 2-inch oak planks. Both in the center of the parlor and dining room ceilings are plaster medallions, original to the home, from which the chandeliers are hung.
The parlor has double sliding, wood doors that close. Penny mentioned that years ago when guests would come to the home, the men would gather in the parlor and close the sliding doors. The women, as they entered the home, would then follow the uniquely curved hallway past the parlor and open staircase to the dining room, where they would meet.
On the first floor there is also a Butler’s pantry, which Penny now uses as a wet bar/serving area/wine and coffee station. The kitchen still contains the original chandelier. The Langlands use a drop leaf table that was found at an auction.
Auctions and antique stores are favorite places for Tom and Penny to visit and find treasures for their home. Shopping in downtown Morris and supporting the businesses of their hometown is also important to this family.
The first floor bath needs a mention since this happens to be the only room in the Langland home that Tom had the responsibility of color choice of the walls. Note that Tom is more subdued and Penny is more flamboyant with colors. Consequently, this room is a very light blue. New Orleans is also the influence here with the décor revolving around Fleur de Lis — the symbol of New Orleans.
Being a home built in 1880 for seemingly affluent homeowners, there is a back staircase from the kitchen leading to the servant’s quarters. What would have been the servant’s living area is now the library for the Langlands. Black-and-white photographs and sketches of places Tom and Penny have lived and visited cover the walls. This is definitely a cozy room, ready for reading or watching TV. Off this room is what used to be the servant’s bedroom. Notice the calling light mounted on the wall. This room is used as the office now.
Upstairs also are three bedrooms that allows visitors to see how spacious this home is. The purple room is a guest room for the nieces when they stay overnight. Penny had a lot of fun decorating this area with light purple walls, floral artwork, and purple, turquoise and white wicker furniture. In the front guest room, notice the refinished trunk at the foot of the bed. It was a wedding gift from Penny’s parents.
The master bedroom is the most traditional, done in soft gold walls and matching wingback chairs placed opposite a window in the room. High school and college graduation photos of Oliver and Schyler hang on the wall. Posey, Tom and Penny’s dog, loves this room and designates it her favorite spot in the house.
The upstairs bath is the last room to describe and it continues the Victorian style. The walls are pale gray to offset the dramatic black-and-white floor tile. There is a chandelier, for Penny says it adds charm and elegance, and it definitely does. The crowning feature, though, is the corner soaking garden tub.
The front porch, which wraps around two sides of the home, serves as a great place to sit and watch much of Morris goes by. For Christmas, it will be decorated in a candy cane theme.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at downtown businesses, as well as at any of the homes on the Housewalk, or the complimentary tea held by Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 202 W. Jefferson St.
Proceeds from the Housewalk are given to Grundy Community Hospice, Morris Downtown Beautification and scholarships for Morris High School and GAVC seniors.
“Home for the Holidays” Housewalk guests will be pleased to know that their tickets are also entries in the grand prize drawing, which features a $300 Grundy Chamber of Commerce Gift Certificate, a dinner at Chapin’s, wine from Montage Spirits and Gifts, a collection of gift certificates from the Morris Retail Association, and a complimentary stay at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites.
Joan Sereno is the hostess coordinator for this home.