Local News

Virtual La Grange Home and History Tour hopes to duplicate last year’s success

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many annual traditions to be skipped or modified in 2020, the La Grange Historical Society found its modified Home and History Tour attracted interest across the world rather than just its own corner.

In 2020, the Home and History Tour had a virtual revamp, allowing participants to purchase tickets for a limited-time online link that would lead them to a video tour of the featured homes. The success of the virtual event was huge, with some attendees viewing the event from places such as California and Paris, said Sarah Parkes, executive director of the La Grange Area Historical Society.

With ongoing concerns over COVID-19 and because last year was a success, the tour again will be virtual this year and will take place Sept. 19. Registration fees are $10 for historical society members and $15 for nonmembers. A ticket package that includes the 2020 virtual tour also is available for purchase on the society’s website, www.lagrangehistory.org.

“We’ve reached an audience that doesn’t live here,” Parkes said. “Like we saw last year, you could be a current resident or a former La Grange resident living anywhere in the world and still participate in this event.”

Parkes said aside from the homes being unique, one thing that makes La Grange’s Home and History Tour special is that participants are guided through the spaces by the homeowners. This provides a look into the continued history of the home, Parkes said, as homeowners share what the spaces mean to them as well as the home’s history.

The tour will feature three homes designed by famous architects, a home that committee chair Katherine Padgett said is a “vernacular” style, and the La Grange Theatre. Notable architects who have designed homes in the La Grange area include Frank Lloyd Wright and R. Harold Zook, according to documents from the La Grange Historical Society.

“It’s important to note that you’ve got some architects of notoriety that thought this was a special community,” Padgett said. “And being virtual, it’s really become a rain or shine event.”

Last year, the historical society sold more than 300 tickets, Parkes said, and this year members are hoping to sell as many as 500. With more than 100 tickets already sold, Padgett said she encourages interested parties to register right away.

While being virtual has hidden benefits, future hosting methods of the event are unknown. Padgett and Parkes both said they hope to be able to offer in-person and virtual options in the future. While it may seem a while out, the committee already has a list of potential sites for next year’s event, Padgett said.

“The committee that works on this works very hard and it shows,” Padgett said. “It’s a curious process … and we like to put in a mix of homes, but we couldn’t do it without the hard work of the committee and the homeowners.”