November 23, 2013

Portland homes for the holidays

The benefit tour in the West End inspires people to get creative.

By Beth Quimby
Staff Writer

When it comes to Christmas decorations, nothing says last year more than red bows and glass ornaments.

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With her boyfriend, Dan Brown of Portland, Samantha Poquette of Wells takes a photo of a mantel in a house owned by Dan Kennedy and his partner, John Hatcher, on the Holiday Home Tour in Portland’s West End on Saturday.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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This staircase and hall mirror are the work of Dan Kennedy in the 1876 home that he owns with John Hatcher. Five Victorian-era homes were decked out for Christmas to raise money for Gary’s House, a local nonprofit.

Additional Photos Below

This year only decorations with a bird motif will do for the well-dressed Christmas tree, if the Holiday Home Tour in Portland’s West End on Saturday is anything to go on.

The tour, which featured five West End Victorian-era homes decked out for Christmas, was organized to show off the skills of interior designers and chefs and to raise money for Gary’s House, a Federal-style West End home that provides low-cost housing for relatives and friends of hospital patients. The owners of the homes donated their living quarters, which were decorated for Christmas by interior designers, while chefs offered cookies, cakes and other holiday treats. Birds, birds’ nests and feathery things were a common theme.

While most of the homeowners stayed away during the tour, Dan Kennedy, owner of Minott’s Flowers, Harmon’s & Barton’s and Sawyer & Co. flower shops in Portland, said he was happy to talk to the lines of people entering his 130-year-old Pine Street home, which he had decorated with garlands and two soaring trees. One tree was covered in peacock feathers and the other in pheasant feathers.

“It is a bit over the top, but we figured it would be what people coming in would want to see,” said Kennedy, who owns the home with his partner, John Hatcher.

The home, built in 1876, was the summer residence of Howard Soule, a Boston flour merchant.

Hatcher said opening the home to a holiday tour wasn’t a big deal since he and Kennedy open their doors to 500 to 600 every Halloween when they turn the carriage house into a haunted house.

The bird theme cropped up at some of the other houses on the tour. Interior designer Kim Corwin created a dining table centerpiece that featured a flock of papier-mache birds complete with birdseed candlestick holders. A snowy owl peeped out from the branches of a tree created by Lisa Hincher, also an interior designer.

Attendees said the tour, which cost $30 per person, gave them ideas for their own living spaces.

“I have been doing the same (old) thing for 20 years,” said Kristy Esposito of Falmouth of her holiday decorating efforts.

Patricia Neja of South Portland attended the tour, her first, with a friend.

“We are interested in decorating, looking for new ideas and I love the West End,” Neja said.

Karen Hruska said the tour was worth the drive up from her home in Ipswich, Mass.

“They are a little more creative than I am,” Hruska said.

The tour was one of a series of three, with the Portland Kitchen Tour last spring and an upcoming tour in Scarborough, organized by event planners Lana Wescott and Marcy Boynton.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Karen Gallagher of North Yarmouth decorated this front hallway.

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Interior designer Kim Corwin created a dining table centerpiece that featured a flock of papier-mache birds, like this one, complete with birdseed candlestick holders.

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Patricia Neja, from left, Suzanne Ambler and Allie Libby view a centerpiece made by Amy Young Pierce during the Holiday Home Tour in Portland on Saturday.

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