Dennis and Joni White of Holton (shown above) will open up their historic home on Saturday as one of the five stops on the “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” tour.

Whites included on Christmas homes tour

Dennis and Joni White’s historic home will mark its 115th Christmas this year, and northeast Kansans are invited to tour the White residence in Holton this Saturday during the “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” homes tour.

The homes tour is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and the Whites are eager to show off their home’s charm and character.

“This is just a beautiful older home, and we just like to share it with people,” Joni said. “It has a really nice history.”

The home was built in 1899 at a cost of $25,000, Dennis said. It was built for A.D. Walker and his family. Walker also built Hotel Josephine, which was named after his daughter. 

“It took over a year to build, and George Gantz’s grandfather hand-carved the stairway,” Dennis said. “George gave us his grandfather’s pocket watch before he died, and we have it on display.”

The couple has lived in the home for 21 years. The home has four fireplaces and hot water registers with unique and individual designs that were hand painted, such as one adorned with cherubs.

Dennis noted that students from Holton’s former Campbell College would take up rooms in the basement of the home. The Walkers had servants, and the house still has the original butler’s box in the kitchen that would indicate were service was needed in the home.

“At the head of the dinning room table there was a button on the floor that you could push and they would come, and there were also buttons in the nursery and at the front door,” Dennis said.

Renovations have been made to the home by the Whites and previous owners, which include installing central air conditioning and remodeling the maid’s quarters into a bathroom.

“We really love it,” Joni said. “I think you have to love an old home to live in one, and we do.”

The day after Thanksgiving, the Whites head to Hinson’s Tree farm south of town to pick out their family tree. The couple has two children, Kennedy, who is a junior at Washburn University; and Nanci, who is married to Jacob Kennedy. Nanci and Jacob have a daughter, Stella.

“Our daughter and her family now meet us out there every year so they can pick out their tree,” Joni said.

Among the decorations they pull out each year is a nativity scene that Dennis bought when he was a little boy. 

“He bought it with his own money on an after-Christmas sale,” Joni said.

The couple also displays a small silver tree that used to belong to Joni’s grandmother, Stella. 

“I always remember this tree being so much bigger when I was a little girl even though it’s just a tabletop tree,” Joni said. “I was over at her house one day, and she was going to throw it away so I grabbed it and some other things.”

Most of the couple’s Christmas decorations are antiques or older items.

“We like to antique and go to flea markets. That’s what we like to do for fun,” Joni said, and their decorations include a wooden cutout of four Christmas carolers on their front porch. “It was one of those buys where you strap it to the roof of the car and hope it gets home.”

A large Santa, which was a display from a former drug store on the east side of the Square, is perched in the White’s attic window. The couple also displays wall hangings quilted by Joni’s mother.

The couple celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve with a family dinner of lasagna and then a candlelight service at Holton Evangel United Methodist Church.  They have a breakfast casserole Christmas morning followed by a family lunch.

Dennis owns White Law Office on the north side of the Holton Square, and Joni teaches English at Holton High School and is a real estate agent with United Country Pagel.

Sponsored by the Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and in part by the Jackson County Tourism Council, the “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” homes tour include homes owned by the Whites, Brooks and Tonya Barta, Les and Rosemary Wilkersons, Phillip and Ginger Lloyd and Brady and Brooke Black.

Five Chamber businesses – Koger Variety, expressions, Lee’s Flower & Gift Shop, Uptown Treasures, and Heart to Home LLC – will showcase holiday items at each of the five homes that will be available for purchase after the show.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Denison State Bank, Holton National Bank, Farmers State Bank and the Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. The tour is a fund-raiser for the Chamber, it was reported.

For more information about the homes tour, call the Chamber office at 364-3963.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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