‘Christmas is our thing’
Hafer home decked out

By SUSAN LYNN
Register Editor

 

Register/Richard Luken
Barb and Carl Hafer have decorated their home at 315 S. Cottonwood for Sunday’s Holiday Homes Tour to benefit the Allen County Animal Rescue Facility.

At every twist and turn in the home of Carl and Barb Hafer is something that begs description. Chock full of antiques, the decorative home is a living history of much of Barb’s family.
The Hafers will open their home from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday in participation of the Holiday Homes Tour for the Allen County Animal Rescue Facility. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the door of participating homeowners.
The Hafers have lived at 315 S. Cottonwood for 32 years. During that time they have renovated the 106-year-old home from top to bottom, careful to preserve, and many times enhance, its original structure.
Most of the work was done by Carl, assisted by his son, Kevin, now pursuing construction as a profession in Baldwin City.
The house features elements unique to bygone days including ornate woodwork, tall ceilings and such touches as a diamond-shaped stained glass window embedded in the stairwell, a small fireplace set at an angle in the sitting room, and the breakfast nook in Barb’s country-style kitchen. It all emits a welcoming warmth that mirrors the Hafers’ personalities.
Of special note are the many antiques passed down to Barb from her parents and grandparents of Wisconsin.
Some have most interesting backgrounds. First off is a handmade record player made by an inmate at Waupon, Wis., State Prison. Her grandfather was warden of the prison and commissioned a trustee to make the record player — the first of its kind without a speaker horn. Instead, its speaker is hidden in a compartment below the turntable.
Family word is that her grandfather got a patent on the model and sold it to Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Because the prisoners were not allowed to be in possession of any sharp tools, the record player, which still works, was made primarily with a file from boxwood.
Also in the living room is a doll encased on the wall. It, too, was given to Barb by her grandfather who said the doll reminded him of Barb when she was an infant. The doll had been her aunt’s favorite before she died as a youth from scarlet fever.
As a child Barb played with the doll. She lost its shoes and loved it to the disheveled state. It was only as an adult that she appreciated its ivory skin and then preserved it in a framed glass box.
The ceiling of the living room is also worth noting. Surrounding the chandelier are gold-painted fronds that make for an eye-catching ceiling. The fronds were placed there by a young Bill Porter, now a Catholic priest in Kansas City, who lived there in his youth. Barb recently painted them gold to make them stand out more.
In the dining room is a corner with family heirlooms under the tree including her mother’s Effanbee doll placed in an antique stroller as well as a childhood tea set and Barb’s first teddy bears.
The Christmas-themed table has her grandmother’s crystal at each place setting.
The Hafers have added to their collection of family antiques with purchases of their own. A fireplace mantle was purchased at an architectural salvage business in Kansas City. New light fixtures reflect older days as do the wood ceiling beams in their kitchen.
Four Christmas trees are on the main floor of the house. Barb’s collection of Santas are scattered across ledges and shelves. Beautiful swags, garlands and wreaths add festive touches as well as ceramic carolers and nativity scenes.
“Christmas is our thing,” they said.
“We pretty much downplay everything else,” Carl said.

FROM THE MINUTE she saw the house Barb knew it was “the one,” she said.
“I’d always wanted to live in a big, old house,” she said.
She and Carl were raised in Chicago and moved to Iola for Carl’s work as an industrial engineer for what is now Haldex in 1975. They first lived in a ranch style home in Meadowbrook Addition.
The house has been a labor of love for the Hafers.
“After what we’ve put in it, I could never leave it now,” Barb said, though it could be said to be a tad big now that it’s just the two of them.
Both the Hafers have recently retired; Carl from Haldex and Barb from 23 years as a third-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School.
This Christmas morning they’ll be expecting 15 around the tree, including their three children and their respective families.
If nothing else, it’ll be a picture-perfect setting.