COLUMBIA — A 40-million-year-old alligator jaw sat atop an original Ethan Allen table. Part of an X-ray machine from 1907 lay underneath. A school of squid, immortalized in a giant fossil, was just around the corner.
This isn’t a museum — it’s just the breakfast room of one of the four homes on the Holiday Home Tour sponsored by the Women’s Symphony League.
Ticket sales for the 28th annual home tour benefit the Women’s Symphony League, which started in 1971. The league, founded by Lucy Vianello and Jean Smith, is comprised of members of the Missouri Symphony Society. Its mission is to promote classical music around Columbia and provide music education for children.
“Some of the homes are historical, and some are just beautiful decorated for Christmas,” league member Joyce Hullet said.
Yvonne Matthews bought two tickets, $15 dollars each, for her and a friend. She said she has been on past tours and looks forward to seeing different homes every year.
The first home on the tour, owned by Robert Duncan and Annette Sobel, was decorated with items from the American Southwest such as a Navajo rug and a Native American medical bag owned by Dr. Spotted Wolf, a doctor who lives in New Mexico. The couple moved to Columbia from New Mexico in 2008.
As Matthews regarded a map of Missouri, a tour guide explained it was the first printed map after the Louisiana Purchase. Even though the basement wasn’t decorated for Christmas, Matthews expressed her appreciation for the historical artifacts.
“Sharing history is a gift of the season,” Matthews said. “We would not have seen it otherwise — it’s truly a gift.”
The second home on the tour, owned by Celeste Hardnock, was loaded with Christmas decorations she has collected over the years, including snowmen, Christmas frogs and glittery mermaids in holiday get-up. Hardnock owns My Sister’s Circus, a clothing store in downtown Columbia.
“If there wasn’t Christmas spirit before, there definitely is now,” Cheryle Nolke, co-chair for the house guide, said when two 8-year-old twin boys began playing soft Christmas music in the background on their cello and violin.
The boys were members of Missouri Junior Strings, which is a part of the Missouri Symphony Society.
The other two homes on the tour were chosen for their beautiful style and artwork.
Robert and Susan Winklemann recently renovated their home, which was built in 1963, to add a master bathroom and a garage.
Brent and Erica Beshore, whose home is on the 15th fairway of the Old Hawthorne golf course, "decorated with their hearts" and turned their three-story home into an eclectic showcase.
The Missouri Symphony Society is presenting a winter concert of its three conservatory youth programs at 7 p.m. Dec. 12. It will be at the Missouri Theatre. Admission is free and tickets are not required.