June 26, 2003


Photo by Diane Chiddister
Anne Erickson’s Limestone gardens and house is one of nine areas featured on the Antioch School’s garden and home tour this Sunday, June 27.

Gardens abloom for Antioch School fundraiser
When Anne Erickson and her family — her husband, Staffan, and their children Julian, Amy and Monica — moved to the big house on the corner of Limestone and Xenia Avenue in 1987, one of the first things she did was take down the heavy drapes in the living room. True, the room looked out onto a busy intersection, but Erickson didn’t want to cut off the view outside.

After living several years in the anonymity of Kettering, she was ready to reside at the center of a lively small town.

Sixteen years later, Erickson is still delighted her family made the move.

“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” she said in an interview last week. “We found our spot.”

Villagers can visit the Erickson home and garden, along with eight other local gardens, this Sunday, June 29, from 2 to 6 p.m., during the annual Summer’s Bloom and Bounty Garden and Home Tour, sponsored by the Antioch School. Tickets, which cost $10, may be purchased at Current Cuisine, Deaton’s Do it Best Hardware, Greenleaf Gardens, Stutzman’s Garden Center or, on the day of the tour, at the Antioch School. Proceeds from the tour will benefit the school’s scholarship fund.

In Kettering, the Ericksons lived in a ranch house, with everything shining new. But the house didn’t feel right. What she wanted, Erickson realized, was a big old house in a small town, a safe place to raise her children.

The Ericksons found their dream house in Yellow Springs. Known by many as the Drake House, the three-story wood frame home was built in 1922 by the uncle of the late Charlotte Drake, who showed up at their door one day to welcome the family to Yellow Springs. It wasn’t hard, Erickson soon discovered, to get to know people in their new home.

“We made fast, close friends,” said Erickson, a nurse-midwife who currently works with women’s health issues.

The Drake House had its idiosyncracies — once used as an Antioch College dormitory, it still has a three-story fire escape hugging one of its sides. And the family discovered four layers of carpeting over its now-exposed hardwood floors. Over the years the Ericksons have lived there, they remodeled the bathrooms and kitchen, installing handcrafted red oak cupboards by Jerry Womacks, and repainted rooms several times. Erickson used a rag-rolling painting technique to achieve a mottled, textured effect in the living room and hallway.

Erickson describes the result as “eclectic,” a mixture of the European furnishings from her husband’s Swedish family and her mother’s Victorian antiques. It’s a bright, warm house that also displays the artwork of the Erickson children — paintings and photographs by Amy and Monica, who will be seniors at Yellow Springs High School this fall, and paintings by Julian, now in college.

While they’ve made many changes, the family also kept some of the house’s unique qualities, such as the fire bell that, when rung in the kitchen, clangs loudly on each of the other two floors.

This summer, the family added a large flagstone terrace in the backyard, with most of the work completed by family friends Jim Mayer and Pierre Nagley, Erickson said. The terrace surrounds her many gardens, including raised beds of organic fruits and vegetables — including raspberries, gooseberries, cantaloupes, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, broccoli and Swiss chard — and bed after bed of perennials, including coneflowers, climbing roses, day lilies, hollyhocks, evening primrose, baby’s breath and goat’s beard.

Gardening is a passion Erickson learned from her mother, she said, explaining that she putters in her garden evenings and weekends, any chance she gets when not working. While semi-trucks roar down Xenia Avenue beside her house, Erickson said she barely notices them in the midst of the peace and beauty of her garden.

—Diane Chiddister

On the garden tour
The Antioch School’s eighth annual Summer’s Bloom and Bounty Garden and Home Tour will also feature:

  • Antioch School garden, created by Antioch School students under the guidance of art and science teacher Brian Brogan
  • Country garden of Lynn and Tim Sontag
  • Japanese garden by Bill Scott
  • Secret garden of Lucille Gardner
  • Gardens and pond of Jan Wambaugh
  • The eclectic gardens and pond of Jeff Reich and Jane Hockensmith-Reich
  • Rosemary Bailey’s English garden, as well as the memorial garden in honor of her daughter, Emily
  • Colorful annuals garden of Esther and Phil Rothman

The tour is self-guided; participants may visit the featured gardens in any order.

For more information, call 767-7642 or 767-2491.