The change of seasons and other significant holidays are always celebrated at Fred Swanson and Vicki Jo Ransbottom’s historic home in Washington Twp. They live on Spring Valley Road and decorate a large front window.
Currently it is set up for Valentine’s Day. This past December they had “A Christmas Story” theme, complete with Ralphie, his pink bunny costume and the Red Ryder BB Gun.
“It doesn’t really take that long to decorate the window; we’ve pretty much got it down,” said Ransbottom. “The hard part is doing multiple changes in one month or coming up with new ideas.”
And she has a lot of them. The day after Christmas, she was tearing down the Ralphie display and showing Rudolf leading Santa’s sleigh back to the North Pole. They change the display about 17 times during the year. Besides the major holidays, they decorate for Air Force Day, spring, back to school, fall and St. Lucia’s Day. The last one is celebrated because Swanson’s parents are Swedish.
They moved from Tipp City in 2000, and over the years local motorists and neighbors have sent their gratitude by mail.
One envelope was addressed to House Beautiful, and the sender wrote, “You don’t know me, but for years I’ve driven past your home and enjoyed the beautiful way you always dress it up on every holiday. I didn’t want another year to pass without telling you that all your hard work is being enjoyed. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.”
The house is over 200 years old. It was originally a log cabin that was built in 1808 and located at the corner of Spring Valley and Yankee roads. It was moved to its current location in 1895. The couple bought the home from Kenny Swigart, who had added a great room and a bedroom to the original structure.
The current home is about 2,700 square feet. They worked hard on the unfinished house with structural upgrades, redid the windows and finished the master suite, a playroom, breakfast nook, refurbished the kitchen and raised and reinforced the dining room floor.
“Our house has been featured twice for Christmas open houses through the Centerville Historic Landmark Foundation,” Ransbottom said.
They also won a Beautification Award this past fall from the Washington Township Visual Improvement Program Committee, along with 18 other property owners.
She met her future husband at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and they have a blended family with four girls, two boys and eight grandchildren.
Swanson worked as a civilian engineer for 37 years. Ransbottom worked at Wright-Patterson as a secretary for 26 years. In the meantime, they will keep decorating. Santa’s Workshop will be the theme for this year’s Christmas.
“That’s just an excuse to sneak in more elves that she has to buy,” Swanson said.
Contact this contributing writer at PamDillon@woh.rr.com.