Annual Tour of Homes to be held

Staff Writer
Story City Herald
Annual Tour of Homes to be held

The 2013 Story City Yulefest Tour of Homes will be held Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. each day. Homes featured this year include Jim and Judy Handsaker, 1270 Northridge Road (sponsored by Hook & Eye Questers); Dan and Pat Seitsinger, 513 Sunrise Avenue (sponsored by P.E.O Chapter FZ); and Ray and Rhonda Hampton, 1411 River Hills Drive (sponsored by Praeri Rail Trail Questers).

Tickets are $6 each and may be purchased at the Chamber Office, 524 Broad Street, Nucara Pharmacy, 621 Broad Street, from any Quester or P.E.O. Chapter FZ member or at any of the homes on tour days.

The Story City Historical Society will be serving complimentary refreshments at the Bartlett Museum, 619 Grand Avenue, during the tour hours.

Descriptions of the three homes follow:


The Ray and Rhonda Hampton home, located at 1411 River Hills Drive, is found tucked away in a picturesque housing development in the northeast corner of town. The Hamptons moved to Story City in 2007 - for the second time. They had previously lived here from 1987 to1995, when Ray was the pastor at Grace United Methodist Church. This time they were choosing to retire in our community, after 41 years in the ministry. The Hamptons have four grown daughters, three of whom graduated from Roland-Story High School.

Visible upon arrival at the home will be a nativity scene in the front yard. This display has quite a history. The wood used for the construction of the stable came from a barn that Rhonda’s father and grandfather built on the home farm near Pocahontas. Making the story even more interesting is the fact that the boards used to construct the barn were salvaged from the original Camp Dodge in Des Moines when those buildings were dismantled after World War I. The long trip was made from Pocahontas to Des Moines for the purchase; the wood was then transported by train to Varina, and finally hauled by horse and wagon to the building site ten miles away. This classic barn stood for over sixty years before being torn down, at which time Rhonda recovered some of the boards to be repurposed for the third time, as a nativity stable. That wood is now almost 100 years old!

The Precious Moments figures were made especially for Rhonda by Dave Schubert, a former Industrial Technology teacher at R-S. As a class assignment, some of his students used a small ceramic nativity set (currently displayed in the living room) as a design, and with a computer program, made patterns and cut the shapes from wood. The large figures were then hand-painted.

Many smaller nativity scenes will be visible throughout the home – some handmade by Rhonda and several given as gifts. Also displayed will be many handcrafted decorations, some given by friends and relatives, and some made by Rhonda herself.

In the living room a baby grand piano dominates the space, and has been placed on a colorful Oriental rug purchased in Morocco. The tree in this room will include many of Rhonda’s Precious Moments decorations as well as the actual sugar coated wedding bells from Ray and Rhonda’s wedding cake 45 years ago. The beautiful wood cradle was made in the Amanas and was used briefly for each of the girls. The doll in the wicker chair was a birthday gift to daughter Krista. While on a visit to the Tarkio Doll Factory in northwest Iowa, Rhonda and Krista watched as this particular doll was completed. At that time the maker asked for name suggestions and was pleased to name her “Krista”, after the Hampton’s daughter – quite an honor for a young girl. The oak pedestal lights were made by a friend from Eldridge, Iowa.

The spacious kitchen was updated in 2012 – keeping the same footprint but upgrading to new cabinets and lovely granite counter tops. Years ago the Hamptons hosted a foreign exchange student from Brazil, and to honor him they chose a granite pattern from Brazil – Venetian Gold.

In 2010 Rhonda began thinking that a bay window on the north side of the dining area might be a good idea – a great way to better view the woodsy backyard bordering on the Skunk River backwater riverbank as well as the Timberland walking trail. When the dust cleared in 2011 they ended up with an entirely new dining room addition including full windows all around. The tree in this room will feature several sets of the 12 Days of Christmas ornaments. The recently restored mirror came from Rhonda’s mother. The birch tree visible from this room was planted by Rose and Milo Helland who built the home in 1974. They often remarked that the two clump trunks would slowly grow closer together reaching toward Heaven where Rose and Milo would one day reunite.

The carved animals are from Africa where Krista and family currently serve as missionaries. Each animal traveled to Iowa as a carry-on item. The elephant weighs 22 pounds.

Hanging on the wall in the family room is a clown print of an original painting hand-signed by Red Skelton, who created many clown paintings as a hobby. Graduation pictures of the Hampton daughters (Joy, Susan, Mary and Krista) are displayed here. The tree in this room will hold many hand-crafted ornaments, whimsical but filled with memories.

The tea room was originally a screened-in porch, but later enclosed by a previous owner and made into a four-season room. Please notice the table which came from Rhonda’s family farm home. The dresser was a wedding gift from Rhonda’s father to his new bride. Mouth-painter Kevin Bunch from Albia, Iowa painted the beautifully detailed barn picture. The pipe stand belonged to Ray’s father in Chicago. The “kissing ball” was a gift to the family in 1971 from a member of the Sargeant Bluff parish.

There are 15 Hampton grandchildren whose pictures are lovingly displayed in the lower level of the home. In the TV area, the bank of storage cabinets was original to the house. The marble and onyx table top was purchased in 1987 in Brazil while on a family trip to visit their former exchange student.

One of the downstairs bedrooms features furniture given to Rhonda’s grandparents as an anniversary gift from their adult children. Her grandparents’ wedding certificate is framed and visible here as well. The cedar chest came from Rhonda’s mother.

Another bedroom and office space is found in the basement space under the new dining room. The three-quarter sized head and foot board in the bedroom are over 150 years old and originally belonged to Rhonda’s great-uncle Henry Hammer. The side rails were thought to have been lost, but later were discovered in the tornado wreckage of a building on her father’s farm. The quilt was pieced and assembled by Rhonda and hand-quilted by the Grace Quilters. The ceramic tree was made by Rhonda’s mother.

The Hamptons have traveled extensively and have acquired many unusual artifacts with special meaning for their family. Please join the Praeri Rail Questers as we host their home this year and share “The Wonderful Worlds of Christmas.”

—submitted by Cheryl Semler


“Home Sweet Home” is the theme for Dan and Pat Seitsinger’s home at 513 Sunset Avenue in Story City. Their home joins this year’s Story City Tour of Homes, representing the FZ Chapter of P.E.O.

As you enter the home, you’ll be greeted by a large Christmas tree. It’s covered in ornaments that are special to the Seitsinger family.

“My favorites are the ones that Charlie made,” said Pat, referring to Christmas tree ornaments made by their son, Charlie. The tree in the basement also features more family-favorite ornaments.

Once you get past the tree, you’ll find a sweet treat in every room as you tour the home. “Butter toffee bars are a family favorite,” said Pat. She makes them from a family recipe featuring mainly butter and sugar with a little flour to hold it all together. Other treats throughout the home are also made from family recipes, handed down from Dan and Pat’s mothers, who have both just passed away in the last two years.

“Being thankful for family and what you have is how we celebrate the holiday season,” said Pat. As you tour through the home, you’ll find lots of family photos and ancestral paintings. “Family means everything,” said Pat.

Guests will find lots of hidden gems among the Seitsinger’s holiday decorations. “I love to decorate and to come up with many of my own decorations for inside and out,” said Pat.

So plan now to enjoy this sweet trip down memory lane with the Seitsingers’ “Home Sweet Home”.

—submitted by Erin Wilgenbusch


Hook and Eye Questers is pleased to host the home of Judy and Jim Handsaker, 1270 Northridge. Judy and Jim have lived in their home since December 1, 2012. The house was built in 1982 by Richard Johnson Custom Homes, for Jim’s parents, Vernon and Hyllis Handsaker. After their parents moved to Scandia West Condominiums, Judy and Jim moved to Story City from their Radcliffe farm.

Although most of the home is original, Judy and Jim updated the kitchen and bathrooms this past year. The new kitchen was handcrafted by Sean Brown of Radcliffe. Hickory cabinets are complimented by a Corian sink and counter top, a new island and overhead LED lighting from Innovative Lighting in Roland. The kitchen opens onto a spacious family room overlooking River Bend Golf course. Next to the family room is the couple’s formal living room. Here you will see their Christmas tree decorated with ornaments from family and friends. Off of this room is one of Judy’s favorite spaces, her sun room! All the rooms on the main floor open onto a deck that flows along the entire south side of 1270 Northridge.

Across from the formal living room is the one-half bath that their carpenter also remodeled. Pay attention to the smooth marble-looking technique on the walls of this bathroom and on the wall of the stairway down to the lower level.

Along the hallway, Jim & Judy have pictures of their three boys. All have joined the family farming operation. On the east end of the home is an amazing master suite with one of the largest custom tiled walk-in showers in Story City, also designed by Sean Brown. This recently renovated master bath also has a dry heat sauna and recessed LED lighting in the ceiling. The master bedroom also has a doorway to the deck that runs all along the south face of the home.

After you’ve finished the main level, the front stairway will lead you down to the walkout basement. At the bottom of the stairs is a delightful vignette of Judy’s past. Judy is a retired Hubbard-Radcliffe teacher. She has an antique child’s desk and dolls from three generations in this cute little nook. Judy displays her own Chatty Cathy, Midge (Barbie’s friend) and her bride doll. She also has her mother’s Shirley Temple and part of a Mickey Mouse tea set, as well as her Grandmother’s tin head doll with paperweight eyes and a lovely German Bisque from the early 1900’s. Judy collected Bessie Pease Gutmann prints because of the unique picture on the wall across from the stairs that was given to her great grandmother when her son (Judy’s grandfather) was born in 1901. You’ll know which one it is by the human hair.

Jim’s office is also on this level and if you are a John Wayne fan, you’ll love it. There is also a large, comfortable family room where the whole family can hang out, with a pool table, foosball and a ping pong table. Here you will find Jim and Judy’s other passion – scrapbooks, collages and a decorated tree with ornaments of their many travels! Jim and Judy started traveling with Bonnie Lucas (WHO radio) in 2004 on a Baltic cruise and they were hooked. They have been to Hawaii (2006), Tahiti (2009), Egypt & Israel (2010), Kenya, Africa (2011), Alaska (2012) and just recently to Peru, Machu Picchu in 2013. Judy said that Africa was her favorite, and so she decorated the downstairs bathroom and guest room with an African theme. Here you will see another Christmas tree decorated with mementos of African safaris.

I know you will love Jim and Judy’s home. “Christmas at Home and Afar” is such an appropriate theme! Thank you to Jim and Judy for letting Hook and Eye Questers show off your home for Story City’s 2013 Yulefest Tour of Homes.

—submitted by Kim Hermanson