Tour 25th Annual Candlelight Christmas House Tour

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New Haven, Mo. – The air-conditioning was needed for the 70-degree weather that was experienced during the New Haven Preservation Society’s 25th Annual Candlelight Christmas Home Tour.

The annual event has traditionally marked the beginning of the holiday season, however with the unusually warm temperatures it felt like summer in December.  On the flip side, the weather encouraged people to tour houses, resulting in one of the largest turnouts in its history.

Along with the record high temperatures it was also the first time two homes on the tour were next door to one another, with an interesting story behind both homes.

In 1917, Edward A. Hebbler built this home and today his great grandson and wife, Brad and Lauren Zobrist, are the fourth generation (soon to be five) to have lived in the 95-year-old house.

Brad’s mother Ellen Hebbeler Zobrist was born and raised in the same home that the soon to be great-great-granddaughter of the original owner will be raised. Adding to the irony, when Ellen married Mark Zobrist, they purchased the home next door, which was built in 1880.   I guess you could say that Brad and Ellen have literally jumped back and forth from one home to the other.


Pictured: The Niewald home.

This year’s Christmas House Tour featured four homes, each displaying a wide array of Christmas decorations.  Join us as we tour each home for those who were unable to attend this year and others that may want a different perspective of Sunday’s event.

We begin with the first house, which is owned by Ervin and Betty Niewald.  Their home was built in 1916 by August and Carrie Riechers.  Mr. Riechers was co-owner of a harness, hardware and implement store in 1910 and then owner of an automobile business from 1913 – 1919 selling the Overland automobile.

The Niewalds purchased the house in 1964 from Mrs. Riechers.  All three of thier children have grown up in this house.  Their two daughters left home in the 1980’s and grandchildren began to arrive on the scene.

The old kitchen became too small for family gatherings, so a bedroom and back porch were converted into a new kitchen and the previous kitchen became an office.  Ervin has redone most of the woodwork throughout the house over the years.

In 2000, they added a two-car garage, deck and a walkway paved with old bricks, which once formed a chimney on the house.  The downstairs bathroom was remodeled in 2009.

The original wood front porch floor was replaced with concrete in July of this year. The Niewald family wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Pictured is the first of two living rooms.

Next on our tour is the home of Tori and Jessica Panhorst is located at 111 Melrose St.

John and Carol Hoemeyer built the house in 1952.  It was said to be one of the finer new homes built in New Haven at the time.  John and Carol owned the only hardware store in historic downtown New Haven during the 1950’s.

The second living that where one of the two fire places is located.

The family room and carport were added in 1978 to complete the home.   Two things were important to Carol when the house was built.  She wanted to use special “buff” colored brick and the house to have gables.  The house is 2003 square feet and has 2 large fireplaces, 4 bedrooms, and a galley kitchen.  This house still contains the original metal cabinets and sink. 

Family tradition of displaying a lot of Santa's.

Continuing the Panhorst family tradition of Christmas decorating, you will find several trees and Santa’s throughout the home.  The home holds a lot of character and charm, which makes it warm and inviting.  Tori and Jessica wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas.


The new living area Mark and Ellen added.

Our final stop includes two homes, one owned by Brad and Lauren Zobrist and the second by Brad’s parents, Mark and Ellen Zobrist.

Brad and Lauren’s home was built in 1917 by Brad’s great grandfather, Edward A. Hebbeler, known as “Pop”.  He and his wife, Clara, raised their three sons in this house and lived there for 48 years.

Main living area, looking out towards the back pourch that over looks Downtown New Haven at Mark and Ellen's.

After Pop’s death in 1965, son Edward and his wife, Marie and their two children, Ellen and Bryan, moved into the house.  They added a new living area in the back of the home, a two-car garage and an indoor swimming pool.  An interesting fact is their swimming pool was the first in-ground pool in New Haven.

In 1979, Ellen Hebbeler and Mark Zobrist were married and moved the house next door.  George Wolff, owner of Wolff Milling Company, built this home in 1880.  The initials “GW” and date “1880” are etched in the beveled glass on the front transom.

One of the orginal rooms in the front of Mark and Ellen's.

Mark and Ellen have added a new living area and a large back porch, but most of the house remains the same as it did in 1880.  Mark and Ellen’s sons, Brad and David, grew up here and enjoyed living next door to their grandmother, Marie.

The families were very close and accessed each other’s homes by walking “the path” in the backyard, which connects their back doors.  This unique tradition has continued for over a 50 years.

Pictured is part of "the path".

 Marie Hebbeler passed away in 2006.  It was a sad time for the family and the empty house was a constant reminder of Marie’s absence.  For decades they had come accustom to Mrs. Hebbeler walking over to visit or as Brad became older his morning routine included a can of Sundrop, walking next door, and having breakfast with his grandma.

Things became much happier in 2010, when Brad Zobrist married Lauren Comici and they made plans to renovate the house.  The living area in the rear of the home was replaced with a new room, and the pool roof was removed.  The home maintains many original features such as hardwood floors, quarter sawn wood doors, and windows and is still home to some of Marie’s beautiful antiques.

Note: All information within this article is courtesy of the New Haven Preservation Society.

Pictured: The back portion of the home that leads out to the back pourch.