Gwin returns to Tour of HomesThe 2012 Christmas Tour of Homes is Nov. 16-18.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
This year’s Christmas Tour of Homes, the Chamber of Commerce’s biggest fundraiser of the year, includes the following homes:
Kim and Jim Burns
321 St. Croix Street
Carol and Brant Worrell
1200 Tenth St. N.
Brian and Patti Lorence
749 Summit Lane N.
714 Third St.
320 Valley Commons
It has been 25 years since Marie Gwin has participated in the Chamber of Commerce annual Christmas Tour of Homes but she is back.
Gwin, a lifelong Hudson resident, was the owner of the Hudson Flower Shop back in the 1980s and said she was constantly being asked by customers and visitors if they could tour her vintage home in those days at 720 Vine St., considered by many to be a showcase.
She always said no, even after she was offered money but the requests gave her an idea. “There was nothing much going on downtown in those years. And on top of that, the funding for the Octagon House had been cut. Stillwater already had a successful tour so I thought we should give it a try.”
With help from other downtown business owners, Gwin was among the participants in the first Hudson tour of homes in 1985. To help the Octagon House, Gwin got the Chamber to agree to donate a dollar from every ticket to them.
“We did everything ourselves from decorating to posters to tickets made from construction paper. We did everything as inexpensively as possible. We didn’t know what to expect -- maybe 50 people. We had 900 plus that first year,” recalled Gwin.
The following year, Gwin decided to “take one more kick at the can” and have her home on the tour again. That year 1,200 people bought tickets and the tour began to be noticed by tour organizers.
With the tour on its feet, Gwin said she had no intention of being on the tour a third consecutive year. But that was also the year her house was noticed by the new magazine “Midwest Living.”
“They featured it in a five-page spread in their first issue. They told me I had to be in the tour that year -- they said it was in the story that my house was in it.”
Gwin said she is happy to be part of this year’s tour and is looking forward to showing tour-goers her current home in Red Cedar Canyon.
“It is a home that reflects who I am now. We all down-size as we get older and things change. This is a home that suits who I am today.”
One thing that hasn’t changed for Gwin over the years is artistic expression. Her home is filled with original paintings, sculpture and her most current passion, fiber arts. There are also numerous examples of her infamous “finds,” things collected from thrift stores and tag sales, repurposed and perfect for her eclectic style.
Gwin said it is gratifying to see how far the Tour of Homes has come over the past 25 years. She especially likes the partnership between the homeowners and the retail community and the financial support of the Chamber of Commerce.
“It makes it a lot easier and so much more fun to do. I have enjoyed getting to know everyone and I think the results will be amazing. I expect my fourth time on the tour to be a wonderful experience.”
The tour is scheduled for Nov. 16-18. For more information about the Christmas Tour of Homes go to www.hudsonwi.org or call (715) 386-8411. Tickets go on sale this fall