Home tour will fund downtown Urbana hotel renovation

URBANA — An annual tour of homes in Champaign County will help fund the renovation of the Sowles Hotel in downtown Urbana.

The Historic Home and Garden Tour, now in its 20th year, will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, said Sandy Gonzalez, a member of the Champaign County Preservation Alliance who helped organize the tour.

Tickets are $12, and money generated will be spent on renovations to the facade of the Sowles Hotel, a three-story brick structure in the 100 block of Scioto Street.

Local officials are hoping the hotel, once renovated, will attract new business.

Because few grants are available, Rich Colvin, president of the CCPA, has said most of the money for the renovations will be raised by private donations and events like the tour of homes.

The group is trying to raise about $500,000 for the renovations.

The tour is the CCPA’s largest fundraiser of the year and will include stops at seven homes, a historic church, an office building being put to new use and the Grimes Flying Lab and Museum, among others.

“The purpose is to illustrate how these homes can be restored and renovated to meet the needs of today’s families,” Gonzalez said.

Homes included in the tour must be at least 50 years old, although the oldest home on this year’s tour was built around 1845.

In addition to the tours, there will be craft demonstrations, sales and entertainment provided throughout the event.

One of the goals of the tour is to provide a variety of homes allowing residents to view several periods and styles.

“The most important thing is for people to take a second look when they’re shopping for a house and look at an older home,” Gonzalez said.


When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cost: Tickets are $12 and available at the white tent behind the Urbana Municipal Building, 205 S. Main St.