Business & Professional Women’s House Tour

The Carlinville BPW House Tour has been a popular and unique part of the Carlinville Christmas Market since 1991. Owners of five or six private homes meticulously decorate them especially for Christmas and generously share them with Christmas Market visitors for walk-through tours on Saturday of the three-day weekend festival.

The 2009 house tour will be held on Saturday, December 5, from 1 to 5 p.m., during the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Christmas Market.

The first BPW house tour was actually held in April of 1990, eight months before the very first Christmas Market, which followed in December of that year. Shortly after the inaugural Market, the Christmas Market organizing committee approached the BPW with an idea. They thought that hosting the house tour during the festival on the first full weekend in December would help attract visitors to the Market and, at the same time, festival visitors would greatly increase the number of people in town to take the tour. And with that, a lasting partnership was born in December 1991.

The BPW charges just $10 for the full tour, with tickets available in advance. Visitors who wish to tour only specific homes can pay $5 per house at the door(s). Maps are provided. Typically, some houses are within walking distance of the town square, where the Market is centered; others are not, so transportation is necessary.

Twenty percent of the gross ticket proceeds is donated to the Carlinville Christmas Market Foundation, which produces the annual festival. The rest of the money provides scholarship funds for area women of all ages and life stages. During the year, the BPW also donates money to area charities as funds are available and needs arise.

The Carlinville Business & Professional Women was chartered in May 1931. Its mission statement is: “Women Helping Women of All Ages and Life Stages.” In working to achieve their mission, BPW members conduct two major fundraisers during the year – (1) BPW booth sales at the Macoupin County Historical Society’s Fall Festival each September and (2) the Christmas Market House Tour each December.

The local organization is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Business & Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., which was founded in 1919. The Carlinville BPW supports the objectives of the Federation, which are: “To promote the interests of business and professional women, to secure combined action by them, and to stimulate local organization and cooperation among business and professional women.”

Carlinville BPW also is a member of the McCarrey Region BPW, which includes 12 BPW local organizations in central Illinois.

The Carlinville BPW officers are: Vicki Dechman, President; Lu Dickhaut, Vice President; Winnie Wild, Secretary; and Mary Huyear, Treasurer. On behalf of all of their members, the officers thank the Carlinville Christmas Market Foundation for its continuing support and the Carlinville Regional Chamber of Commerce for its past role in sponsoring the House Tour.

The BPW extends a special thanks to the many homeowners who generously open their homes to the public each December and, in the process, have made the House Tour a very successful Carlinville tradition.