Last weekend was our annual West Central Neighborhood Home Tour showcasing a number of historic homes, businesses, and a garden located in the city’s first historic district – West Central. Friday evening the owners of Klaehn, Fahl, and Melton Funeral Home hosted our annual pre-tour party. The generous hosts provided snacks, beverages, and a wonderful and tasty variety of cheesecakes.
Klaehn, Fahl & Melton Funeral Home
West Central residents and guests enjoying the hospitality of Klaehn, Fahl & Felton
I was scheduled to work on Sunday at the mission-style home just three doors east of my home. I woke Saturday to a beautiful day – mild, clear, and just perfect for a house tour. I had to finish some weeding at the Nelson Street side of my home, so I dressed, made my coffee, and hurried outside to beat the tourists.
As I knelt along the curbside to pull the weeds, I chatted with passersby who were on their way around the neighborhood. I was pleased with their compliments about my flowers, but I was even more delighted to tell them about Thieme Drive and the early entrepreneur for whom it was named, Theodore F. Thieme.
After I finished my weeding, I worked on the front porch – actually it was more like dallying so I could pick up on the comments as tourists strolled down the sidewalk and around the corner at my home. Many times I heard them say, “it is so peaceful down here.” Of course that is something that I have known for years and something that drives me to work to protect Thieme Drive from destruction.
As I picked wilted blossoms from my hanging baskets and potted plants and swept my front porch, I kept my ears open for the clip clop of the carriages coming down West Berry Street. Once a year, at the time of the house tour, carriage rides around the house tour route are provided free. What a wonderful sound as the horses approached – their hooves breaking the quiet of the morning and the peacefulness of the street. The first day of the tour was a huge success.
Horse and carriage sitting in front of 1229 West Berry Street
Sunday morning of the second day, however, broke with rain and a dreary sky. As I gazed outside, I thought this would surely discourage a good crowd. I was completely wrong. As the morning hours passed, the greyness and rain disappeared to be replaced with sunshine and balmy temperatures. By late morning, the sun was out, the tourists returned, and the horses and carriages once again lazily rolled through the neighborhood.
I was to work at the mission-style home located at 1229 West Berry Street – pretty handy since I lived three houses to the west. I walked down to the home a little early and sat on the front porch cement railing greeting guests until my shift started. I was stationed just inside the front door in the living room.
1229 West Berry Street – Mission-style home on tour
The mission-style of home – originating in California – was built around 1910 for Theodore F. Thieme. Mr. Thieme had traveled to California on business for his company, Wayne Knitting Mills, and returned with the idea of building a mission-style home in Fort Wayne. Although built for Mr. Thieme, he never occupied the home.
From 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., I provided instructions on touring the home. The line seemed never-ending at times, and I couldn’t help but think that this had to be one of the busiest tours ever. The day was gorgeous, and at 5:00 p.m., as the stream of visitors slowed, I was tired.
At 5:00 p.m., I picked up my camera and walked the short distance back to my home. I felt such a sense of accomplishment even though my part had been so small. As I walked home – to my own little corner of West Central – the heat of the afternoon fading away, I gazed over at Thieme Drive and the St. Marys River, and I truly understood how fortunate I have been.
It had, indeed, been a beautiful day – make that two days – in the West Central Neighborhood.
1229 West Berry Street, looking from living room into dining room – original hardwood floors