Stan and Tamra Bennett Home by Patty Hylton
Five years ago Stan and Tamra Bennett walked through the double doors of the house that was conceived by landscape artist, Steve Cox – and found to their surprise they were in a lovely “outside room”. You too will walk through the double doors and be welcomed by a floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree and a warm, crackling fire and you will realize that you are still outside! The outdoor pool and large family dining table which has been the scene of many family birthday parties beckons you to explore more of the outside but this December night we encourage you to turn to the right and enter the large sliding glass doors to the beauty of this Craftsman style home.
The hand sawn hickory floors stand up well to the pitter-patter of seven grandchildren (with one more on the way this month) as well as the Bennett’s three great Danes. The Bennett’s begin most days in front of the fireplace, coffee mug in hand, as they observe a time of quiet. The Sequoia “Poster” mounted above the fireplace was a great find for the Bennett’s! Tamra can remember watching her grandfather wind the mantle clock that you will notice in this room. Stan’s office is to the right of the family room. His desk was originally the Bennett’s dining room table from the ‘70’s. In the guest room you will notice the baby crib which has seen lots of use over the past 10 years, as well as the Thomas Kincaid painting.
As you double back to the kitchen/dining area you will begin to realize that the house is designed not just to give you a view of the outside but to integrate the two so you feel the outside is a part of the inside. The handcrafted Amish chairs make a strong statement around the dining table. The hand-made tea cart is adorned with Stan’s grandmother’s and his Aunt Cleo Kertel’s silver.
As you enter Stan and Tamra’s bedroom you might find yourself exhaling. This room seems to say: “breathe – you’re home”. The mirror above the bed was a 1925 wedding present from Elmer Bennett to his bride, Pearl Maxwell, Stan’s grandparents. The cabinet at the foot of the bed houses a flat screen TV.
For the “cherry-on-top”, don’t leave this property without seeing Tamra’s addition above the garage, the Bunkhouse! When their garage developed a leak, Tamra sketched out a 16’ X 20’ room, which would not only cover the leak but would be able to house all her grandchildren, as well as, one set of very brave parents! Each bunk has a queen-sized mattress and its own reading light. Take special note of Tamra’s grandfather Frank Eggers’ saddle, custom built by Visalia Saddle Co., and also his chaps on the opposite wall. Frank Eggers was a walnut farmer in the area and guided pack trips out of Mineral King, which according to family lore included Teddy Roosevelt on one trip!
Home of Vicki Riddle by Cindy Valdez
Vicki moved from the country in 2016 and found her new home in one of Exeter's most desirable well established neighborhoods. Her home was originally built in 1922 but has gone through an extensive remodel over a recent two year period. Approaching the home, you will be greeted by a delightful Christmas display of Santa's Sleigh. Behind the display is an outside lamp pole in which the base is an original brake drum with the light pole itself being made from a Ford drive shaft. On each side of the house there are outside courtyards. In the south courtyard you will see a beautiful scene of Santa's Village. Just inside this courtyard there is an old-fashioned swing originally made by a previous owner and Exeter High School shop teacher, Beryl Allison. This is a must see! The sides of the swing are secured by Ford drive shafts and the ornate iron designs at the top of each side were taken from 1902 Lincoln School desks making this really an interesting piece. In the north side courtyard you will encounter a spectacular Winter Wonderland White Christmas! Here you will see an artistic silhouette of a couple kissing in a window and be able to smell greenery called Rosary Beads or String of Pearls that smell like Christmas cookies. Going into the home through the front door, you are met by an open floor plan. The kitchen sits on your right and is newly remodeled. The home has gone from dark stained wood and earth tones to very inviting cool whites and muted grey tones creating a new, fresh and cheerful atmosphere. Many historical and architectural features have been preserved. Immediately noticeable is a large wall- to- wall exposed grey stained multifaceted bridge beam. This beam was originally covered by stucco. The original three six paned panel windows, which face south in the dining area, create warm sunlit mornings. There is an original built in cabinet just below the windows with matching china cabinets on each side. Looking across the room is the fireplace which contains prized Batchelder tiles and sconces. These were made by Ernest Batchelder (1876-1957) an American artist who lived in southern California. A door near the fireplace leads to the spacious master bedroom which was created by walling in part of the north side courtyard. The stairs, that lead up to two beautifully decorated bedrooms and a bathroom, are original to the home. Again you will see the Ford drive shaft and school desk ornamentation used at the beginning of the stairs. The bathroom is also original and is done in bright whites. The bedroom on the south side of the bathroom previously had a closet built in just inside the door to the room. When the closet was removed in this latest remodel, a secret door was found inside the closet that now leads to the bathroom from the bedroom. This same bedroom originally had a small room in it that was used as an observation room to watch for incoming military aircraft at one time. That small room is now a walk in closet with barn style doors. The two upstairs bedrooms and downstairs guest bedroom (off the family room) are dedicated to each of Vicki's three grown sons, Jonathan, Brandan and Justin, so they have a place of their own to stay when they visit.
In the upstairs hallway there is a door that leads to an old- fashioned attic. Here in the attic a scene from National Lampoons's Christmas Vacation has been created for your pleasure!!! Going downstairs you will walk east through the family room and out a door to the east side courtyard where you will be able to smell chestnuts roasting! Just outside the door there is a very comfortable relaxing social area. Next to this you will find a separate building that was once the carriage house. Just inside the door, there is an exposed area showing the bricks that are the primary building material in the home. The home was originally built by the owners of the Exeter Brick Yard. Looking north, past the sparkling pool and spa, you will see a beautiful Christmas Nativity. There are many charming, unique and interesting things to see in Vicki's home that are too many to mention here. This is a home you will just have to see!
The Home of Sepp and Nancy Becker by Cindy Valdez
This home was purchased by them in 2007, is located in a well maintained beautiful historic area of Exeter. It has a view of the tree lined City Park, and is only four blocks away from Exeter's charming downtown. This home is listed as being built in 1912, but according to Nancy, was actually built in 1906. Upon arriving at the front of the home, you will immediately notice the large semi wrap around front porch. Off to the right is a quaint outside eating area and the left side gently wraps around to the south side of the home. There are many beautiful and interesting architectural features seen on the front of this home such as the many large columns and intricate woodwork making this house a grand sight!.
Walking thru the front door takes you into a front vintage furnished sitting room where a warm fireplace and the wonderful smell of a Christmas tree greet you! To the left is the first bedroom where there are actual Saturday Evening Post papers framed on the walls that had been saved by Nancy's grandmother. In one of these papers there is a man who resembles Sepp and Nancy's oldest son, Nick, who is right now serving a tour in Afghanistan. Nick's West Point uniform is proudly displayed on a chair below the picture. The crochet red and tan flowered bedspread on the bed in this room was lovingly made by Nancy's great aunt's mother- in- law. An interesting feature of this home are the brass electrical wall plates which are on the walls of this room and in the rest of the home. These are original to the home and are functional. A light bulb is simply inserted into the socket of the unit for lighting. Continuing the tour next takes you to the early 1900's styled bathroom which upon looking in, you will right away notice the amazing large old fashion bathtub! Finishing with the south side tour is the now Family Room of the home. This room was once a second bedroom which was part of a Jack and Jill bedroom set with the bathroom being shared by both rooms.
Walking thru the newly added short hallway, where Nancy herself painted the doily designs on the walls, takes you to a breakfast room. In this room the former hallway which has been enclosed is now a small bar room. Walking out of the breakfast room takes you back to the sitting room and then to the formal dining
room where there is an original built- in china cabinet. Nancy's office, which is off the formal dining room, is actually a remodeled closed in part of the front porch. Moving from the dining room takes you thru the vintage kitchen and laundry room and then out the back door to the large backyard. There you will see a large pool, gardening area and on the south side a delightful outside living room area with a comfortable couch, dining table, TV set and a fire pit. This is a must see! Nancy said this is their Spring, Summer and Fall "hang out" area. The table is from Germany and it's top is actually an old door. To the back of the yard is an old "stable" room with a newly remodeled bathroom which used to be an old outhouse. An old fashion light pole sits toward the center of the backyard which was purchased "post 1980" sometime from the City of Exeter. There are two more matching light poles located along side the driveway on the south side of the home. With its early 1900's architecture and designs, outside family gathering area, this is one house you will love seeing!!
The Home of Merrilyn Brady by Cindy Valdez
To see this home you will need to enter through the Exeter Golf Course off of Visalia Road and make an immediate right turn onto Little Lane. Parking is allowed on the north side of the street only. You will see several old fashioned vintage styled lamp posts along the way to Merrilyn's home. Upon walking up the driveway there is a cement walkway surrounded by immaculate landscaping that leads to the front door on the west side of the home. Here you will see a festive Christmas display. Entering the home, you will see a large oil painting on canvas of a deer winter scene with a branch of decorations and a large iron chandelier in the entryway. The home is Mediterranean style with natural dark wood flooring throughout. The house tour now takes you north into a beautifully decorated guest bedroom where there is a large Thomas Kincaid painting over the bed, and two closets. Just beyond the guest bedroom is the guest bathroom and a conveniently located laundry room.
Walking back south through the entryway again you will enter the open and spacious dining, music/office room, kitchen and living areas of the home. The dining room features a large dining table with a very large round glass and iron candelabra style chandelier over the table. There is an immense dark multi wood china cabinet with an impressive golden Christmas poinsettia arrangement displayed in the middle. The china cabinet was found in an old barn in Modesto by Merrilyn's daughter and it took six months to have it restored. There are many crystal pieces in the cabinet that are from Merrilyn's mother and grandmother that you will enjoy seeing. In one corner a Christmas tree stands festively decorated. Just east of the dining room there is a "flex room." With the floor plan of Merrilyn's home there are two bedrooms and a flex room which can be any style room needed. Merrilyn chose this room to be a music/office room. There is a mini grand piano in this room that is a delight to see!
To the east of the music room is the expertly designed chef's kitchen where Merrilyn loves to cook. It features off white quartzite counter tops with a large sleek and stylish kitchen island in the middle. One of Merrilyn's favorite things about her kitchen is that all of her dishware are in deep drawers between the refrigerator and pantry. There is also a lazy susan storage area that is left of the dishwasher. The kitchen cabinets and walls are painted ivory making the kitchen a bright and cheerful place to be. The living room is generously sized with the focal point being the warm and inviting fireplace with large windows on each side that face out onto the golf course. Don't miss the whimsical angel made from stones and feathers on the fireplace hearth!