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For the love of homes: Yorkers tour unique, beautiful houses on annual outing

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

After the warmth inside St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, stocked with cookies and melodic musicians, the gathering York County residents braved the cold Sunday afternoon in the name of home design and eclectic décor.

It scratches a specific itch the brain craves: beautifully decorated homes to inspire and excite.

From stately three-story mansions to cozy, artistic bungalows, eight York County homes stood as part of the annual Twelfth Night tour of homes, a fundraising event organized by the York Twinning Association.

"It was just so nice that we could get back to having a tour again," said Betty Stein, co-president of the nonprofit organization. "And the homes were wonderful and they were all different — you know, a good variety."

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Event organizers initially worried there wouldn't be a Twelfth Night tour this year.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started more than two years ago, the concept of hundreds of strangers crowding in one house left some feeling wary.

Nonetheless, the annual tour of homes has been a beloved holiday tradition in the community. Large groups came out for the event Sunday, eager to step over the thresholds of all types of homes.

Just across from the Twelfth Night base at St. Paul’s Lutheran stood the first home on the tour: an 1890 John Dempwolf-designed home owned by Ed and Cindy Stawarz. The 8,000-square-foot space, complete with coffered ceilings, original stained glass and winding staircases, is located on South George Street.

A house on the Twelfth Night tour. This home, owned by Peter Danko and Sue McDaniels, is located at 839 Mackenzie St. Original artwork and furniture made by the couple are the centerpieces of this home. Tina Locurto photo.

Many on the tour marveled at the 18 Christmas trees dotted throughout the house — all decorated by Cindy Stawarz herself.

Just down the street, tour groups gathered inside an artisan paradise, complete with custom-built furniture and decorative pieces by Peter Danko and Sue McDaniels. A large knit palm tree stood proudly at the end of the dining room, while McDaniels greeted guests and encouraged them to try on the various hats she created.

A little down the road from Stawarz home on South George Street sits an 1800s home owned by Paul and Lora Deller. The couple transformed the space into an office showroom for their company, Red Oak Remodeling. Though much of the space has a modern, sleek finish; original details still remain.

A house on the Twelfth Night tour. This home, owned by Ed and Cindy Stawarz, is located at 900 S. George St. and was designed in 1890. Eighteen Christmas trees are dotted through the property and complement original stained glass and secret passageways. Tina Locurto photo.

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A tight stairwell leading to a third floor reveals newspapers yellowed with time. The newspapers, dating back to 1879, were used as insulation in the home when first built.

"It was a wonderful way to have outreach into the community and to get people out," Stein said of the tour. "It's a great way to conclude the holidays in a positive way."

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Funds raised during the Twelfth Night Tour will go toward the York Twinning Association's future endeavors.

The association was founded as an international cultural collaboration between York County and its European "sister cities," Arles, France, and Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany. With an emphasis on building relationships abroad and sharing cultures, groups from York travel to each city, and French and German groups visit York.