Happy holidays from the Martineaus

AAUW presents Homes for the Holidays

Tour of five area homes, all decorated for the holidays, takes place Sunday, Dec. 1, 1-4 p.m.

Ticket price is $30. Sales start Nov. 1. Ticket holders must be 16 years or older. Tickets available at Walgreen’s and Positively.

Proceeds from the annual tour of homes support educational and economic benefits for women and families

ESCANABA – As Escanaba prepares to usher in another Holiday season, plans for gatherings and garlands are already underway at the home of Don (Marty) and Parma Martineau. Nestled in a tree-lined neighborhood, the home at 405 South 8th Street has hosted more than its share of family, friends, and local history.

Built in 1893, the home is situated comfortably near parks, businesses, and neighbors – the ideal location for Leon LaBranche, a man listed in the 1902 city directory as a “dealer of fine wine, liquors, and cigars.” The home was built with an eye for detail and craftsmanship. Even today, much of the original splendor remains unchanged.

Upon entering, guests are greeted by an expertly carved balustrade that frames a stately mahogany-colored staircase. The original wood floors bring brightness and warmth to every room, and the leaded windows are delicately draped in lace – much as it would have been over a 100 years ago.

The home has changed its identity many times over the years. In 1907, the home was listed in the city records as a boarding house run by Adele LaBranche, widow of the aforementioned Leon LaBranche. It is perhaps at this time that the first and second floors of the home were turned into separate living spaces, which remained when Martineau’s purchased the home 60 years later.

City records also show that in 1927, the home was listed as a rectory for St. Patrick’s Church. Little else is known about what happened there until Don and Parma Martineau purchased the home – their first as a young family – in 1967.

Parma says that they bought the home almost on an impulse; they fell in love with its character and spirit immediately after seeing the For Sale sign in the yard as they went on a walk one night. Though it had been carved into separate apartments, the Martineau’s saw the original beauty of the home.

They moved in immediately, renting out the upstairs apartment while they lived on the first floor. It is in that first floor apartment that the Martineau’s raised five children while meticulously restoring and preserving their beloved home. They refinished the original wood flooring, repaired and plastered all of the walls, and slowly built a collection of antique furniture to complement the grandeur of the home.

The first floor of the home remains curated as a space for entertaining. The stately staircase greets visitors, punctuated by an ornately carved antique hall tree bench that has remained with the home over the years. The room is set aglow by crystal chandelier that throws jewels of light into the adjacent parlor.

During the Holidays, garland is draped around the rooms, interspersed with pops of poinsettia plants.

Original leaded glass windows fill the parlor with daylight and accent Parma’s collection of antique seating and family photographs.

Through the oak paneled pocket doors lies the dining room, where an original built-in buffet houses Parma’s collection of antique crystal and china. A small sitting room adjoining the dining room once served as Don and Parma’s bedroom. Now it gracefully highlights her treasured secretary hutch and sumptuously textiled settee. At Christmastime, the settee is carefully relocated and the family Christmas tree illuminates the room. An original claw-footed bathtub sits in the nearby bathroom, illuminated delicately by a small chandelier and surrounded by playful floral wallpaper.

Intricately detailed brass doorknobs and patterned hinges remain on every original oak door and draw visitors through the home. At the rear of the house sits the kitchen, painted a cheerful shade of purple. Large windows bounce light into the room and highlight a quiet caf table.

Twenty years ago – the day after Christmas – a fire tore through this section of the home. Don and Parma were forced to remodel the entire kitchen, basement, and what is now the nearby laundry room. Before it was a laundry room, the back room of the home was the bedroom shared by all five of the Martineau children; Micky, Crissy, Tony, Becky and Timmy.

Now, it is lightheartedly decorated with bright colors, inviting visitors to pass through to a comfortably renovated basement that now serves as a family room. Northern Michigan dcor and warm earthy colors surround a wooden bar and plush seating area and provide a respite for the family.

The second floor of the home retains the period details of the first floor. Beautiful hardware, original wood molding, and carefully refinished wood flooring run through all five of the upstairs bedrooms. When their children were still school-aged, the Martineau’s decided to reclaim the living space on the second floor, removing the second floor kitchen, updating the bathroom, and creating three bedrooms out of what were an upstairs kitchen, dining, and living room.

Now, each bedroom is thoughtfully decorated with an eye for the vintage aesthetic. The linens change with the Holidays, as white duvets with red accent fabrics replace the regular quilted bedspreads. Every room holds treasured keepsakes of family and community history, such as antique photos of Escanaba’s buildings and an ornately framed invitation to a night of dining and dancing at the old Dells Supper Club.

Don, retired from the U.S. Postal Service, and Parma, retired from Escanaba Area Public Schools, gather at their home every Christmas with their five children and 17 grandchildren. Though they are retired from their careers, Don and Parma still enjoy an active life of community involvement – Don spends time working with Allo Funeral Home and the Escanaba Country Club and Parma enjoys time working at The Victorian Gift House and Escanaba Schools.

This active retirement makes them appreciate their home even more deeply when it is filled with the sounds of family.

During the Holidays, garland and ribbons adorn the staircase and a carefully decorated tree occupies a corner of the sitting room. Music plays, and food is shared along with the laughter of children.

The Martineau’s cherish being surrounded by family and friends and take great pride in the home they have cultivated. The warmth of this home is not simply limited to the woodwork.