Members of both the Helen G. Steele Music Club and Sorosis Club were on hand Tuesday at the Heard Memorial Club House sprucing up the home and yard and staging it in preparation for public tours Saturday to help raise money for renovations.
“We are having an open house at the cost of $5,” said Heard House Board President Rhonda Chalfant. “We’re raising money to help with repairs to the building. It needs to be painted, of course, outside and we need work done on the front porch and a lot of other minor repair. And so we’re hoping to raise some money from this, to do that.”
Period clothing spanning 1906 to 1935 will be displayed throughout the house, which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, for the tour.
“In addition to being able to see the house, which is fully decorated, we have objects from the Sorosis Club’s clothing collection,” said Chalfant who is also a member of both the music club and Sorosis.
The clothing has been donated by members over the years and includes a beautiful black silk, sequined gown worn by Mrs. W.H. Harris to the opening of the Hotel Bothwell in 1927.
“I think the oldest item in the collection dates the late 17oos, it’s not on display,” she added.
Chalfant said the house basically has remained the way the Heard family left it in their will.
“Mrs. Heard donated the house and its contents,” Chalfant said. “She left it in her will to the two clubs which caused no end of complaint.”
Lillian Heard left the house to both the Helen G. Steele Music Club and to the Sorosis Club.
“She left it to the women of Sedalia, for educational purposes,” added Betty Sue Viterna, vice-president of the music club and past president of Sorosis. Viterna is also a member of the Heard House board.
The two story house was built between 1904 to 1906 by Dean Construction Co., in Sedalia, and was owned by U.S. Senator John Heard.
“John … married Lillian while he was in Washington, and she loved to entertain,” Chalfant said. “And the house in many respects was built for entertaining. She had little slip covers for her dining chairs throughout the dining room so when she entertained they would all match.”
Most of the furniture in the home belonged to the Heard family and period lamps and wall sconces with light shades remain in the house and were placed at a time when people were uncertain about electricity.
“And they weren’t sure electricity was really here to stay,” Viterna added.
“But in 1904 and 1906 a lot of houses of that period had fixtures that were wired for electricity but also piped for carbide gas,” Chalfant said.
Viterna said she hopes people will be curious about the house, known for its splendid window that graces the stairway landing facing west. The large colorful window is a combination of both stained glass and painted glass. It depicts a scene in Venice.
“And we know too, there are people in Sedalia who have driven by this house and wondered, ‘what’s in there,’” said Viterna. “So it’s a chance for Sedalia to come see it. And maybe it will interest some other people in Sorosis and the music club.”
“It’s a beautiful house,” Chalfant added. “People who are interested in antique furniture, old houses or local history would surely enjoy seeing it. (It has) a wide range of architectural and design styles. The house is called eclectic. Italianate eclectic.”
Chalfant said that, for those who are interested, they do rent out the house for small events up to 100 people.
“If someone wanted to have a small wedding reception — that front staircase, I can just imagine a bride coming down,” Chalfant added.
During the tour, Sedalia photographer Mark Hammond will be selling photos of the home’s interior and there will also be note cards for sale. Helping explain the history of the home will be docents stationed in each room presenting facts about the room and the furniture. Another special treat will be Byron and Judy Matson, of Sedalia, who will have their Pierce-Arrow motor car parked outside.
After the tour refreshments will be served, and guests will be treated to live period and classical music.
At present, the home is not handicap accessible, but the women are hoping to include that with the renovations.
Heard Memorial Club House tours will run from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday; the home is located at 200 W. Broadway Blvd.