A line formed to enter the Westman home at 1310 S. 63rd Street.

A line formed to enter the Westman home at 1310 S. 63rd Street.

Nine hundred people discovered the historic homes of the Aksarben neighborhood, along with Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, during Restoration Exchange Omaha’s Fall Neighborhood Tour October 2.

Tour goers and hosts enjoyed the afternoon equally. “People were very relaxed, and many people thanked us for opening up our home for them to visit,” said Katie Blesener, who lives with her husband, John Royster, at 6024 Poppleton Ave. “We explained that we had toured the homes of many generous homeowners over the years, and it was our turn to reciprocate.”

“Everyone was cheerful, enthusiastic and respectful,” said Rebecca Anderson. She and husband, Bill Minier, share an English Tudor home at 5611 Leavenworth St. “It’s heartening to know how many people share our commitment to historic homes,” she said.

Tour Chairman Trina Westman, whose home was included on the tour, was especially pleased with the collaboration between the Aksarben-Elmwood Park Neighborhood Association and Restoration Exchange Omaha. “You could sense the pride the neighborhood association has for this area, and I think REO really appreciated it,” she said. “I think the neighborhood was really impressed with REO’s organization and professionalism.”

The Westman home at 1310 S. South 63rd St. has undergone an extensive remodel since architects Eric and Trina Westman bought it about 10 years ago. The home’s first owner was the daughter of Swiss immigrant Jacob Maag, a stone cutter and ornamental plaster artist, so people were intrigued by the fancy plaster moldings and other embellishments. “They also seemed to enjoy being able to see the attic and the basement, as most every room in our house was open for them to access,” Westman said.

At the Blesener-Royster home, the kitchen, bathroom and outdoor spaces seemed to generate the most interest. “People were especially interested in learning what was original and what improvements we had made,” Blesener said. “Visitors were also surprised at how large our house is—much bigger than it looks on the outside.”

At the Anderson-Minier home, people had questions about the Amdega conservatory addition on the south side of the house and how it related to the original greenhouse footprint, Anderson said. “Several were surprised that the stained glass inserts in the leaded windows were original.”

There were varying reasons for attending the tour. For some, it was a nice way to spend a leisurely afternoon. For others, it was a learning exercise. “Some visitors intently questioned us on the process we went through, obstacles we encountered, costs, how we located materials and length of time to make improvements,” said Blesener.

The tour provided participants a glimpse of “varied, attractive, livable spaces with materials and features one cannot find in most new construction,” said Anderson. “And they saw a lively, cohesive neighborhood filled with engaged residents.”

The REO Fall Tour not only served as inspiration to many of the visiting guests, it provided motivation for some of the homeowners. “The tour gave us a strong incentive to complete a number of projects that had languished over the years,” Anderson said. “Our home is in better shape as a result!”

Next year’s tour will showcase the Wyman Park neighborhood north of the Florence Mill. Westman noted that tour organizers have learned that a variety of home types and sizes is important. “People love before and after stories and pictures, and they love to hear about the different people who lived in the houses,” she said.


Royce Connerley points out some of the architectural detail at his home at 5844 Pine St.

Royce Connerley points out some of the architectural detail at his home at 5844 Pine St.

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