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Tour of Homes offers glimpse of the 1930s in a historic base housing area

Northwest Guardian

Published: 11:13AM December 13th, 2012
Tour of Homes offers glimpse of the 1930s in a historic base housing area

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Madeline Lanza, middle, gives Tech Sgt. Matthew Martin, left, and his wife Emily a tour of their home during the recent Historic Tour of Homes.

Residents of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Broadmoor community opened their homes Dec. 7 and 8 to display their creativity and holiday interior design ideas as part of the Historic Tour of Homes.

The fundraiser has been a tradition since the late 1980s and helps to raise money for the Lewis Community Spouses Club welfare fund that distributes aid to JBLM organizations and local community affiliations.

“It’s great because it gives people an outlet to show off their creative side, but also gives them an opportunity to welcome the community as a whole into their homes,” said LCSC first vice president Andrea Aitkin, who helped organize the event.

The self-guided walking tour allowed visitors to enter 19 historic homes located in the Broadmoor housing area. Some residents chose to decorate around a theme, like the Lanza residence, home of 7th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, his wife Madeline, and their son Raymond.

“I’m a tree person,” Madeline said. “And Washington state is just overrun with beauty, so it was an easy focus.”

She likes trees so much the Lanzas displayed more than 60 of them in various shapes, sizes and materials throughout their home. The living room contained three full-size Christmas trees, one for each member of the family.

“I really enjoy it because I love to decorate,” Madeline said. “It’s fun.”

The tour gave community members a rare glimpse inside the 1930s homes located in the Fort Lewis Garrison Historic District, recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

“You look at these quarters and they all seem to look the same until you walk in, and then you get a sense of how you can make quarters home,” Aitkin said.

Residents in Broadmoor are recruited early in the year to participate in the Historic Tour of Homes, and usually begin decorating soon after Halloween. Aitkin, whose own home is on the tour, said residents are happy to do it since they know the purpose is to return money to the community.

“The sense of community we have and the way that people are there for one another — it really is tremendous to me, and that’s in every neighborhood on post,” she said.

As part of the LCSC, Aitkin understands that sometimes there are stigmas attached to spouses clubs, but what may not be widely known is that the LCSC is a non-profit organization with a constitution and bylaws.

“People think because we get together every month and we have luncheons that that’s all we do,” Aitkin said. “But we have a really great time volunteering.”

The LCSC is open to all ranks and allows spouses to socialize, meet new friends, show off their skills or just have somewhere to go, Aitkin said.

“And you can feel good about it because you’re giving back to the community,” she said.

Madeline believes that the LCSC is a great way for spouses to create their own identity.

“In the military it’s tough for spouses because you can’t help but assume your service member’s identity,” she said. “I love the spouses group because it’s all different people and different ranks, but there is still a commonality there. The spouses here are wonderful.”