Tri-Kappa Tour of Homes

Vernons to show off their
creativity, antiques, home

The couple moved to Madison from California in 2019

(September 2021) – Jerome and Belinda Vernon have called Madison, Ind., home since May 2019, moving there from Visalia, Calif. Their home, located at 428 Mulberry St., is a testament to the rich history of Madison and the Vernons’ creativity.
The Vernons love collecting and restoring antiques, and before moving to Madison, they had a goal of purchasing an old home to fix up. “It was a bucket list item of ours to do together,” said Jerome Vernon.
After searching the entire country for a place to settle, they decided to narrow down their search. “I remember doing a Google search for the cutest towns in America. Madison was no. 7,” said Belinda Vernon.
The couple saw a listing for the home on Mulberry in January 2019 and made their first trip to Madison to visit it and several other houses that same month. “The seven degree weather didn’t deter us,” said Jerome Vernon.

Jerome, Belinda Vernon

Photo by Sydney G. Wilson

Jerome and Belinda Vernon pose inside their recently renovated home that will be on the
Tri-Kappa Home Tour.

After looking at three or four houses on Main Street, the house on Mulberry Street caught their eye thanks to the chandeliers occupying several prominent locations throughout the house. Built in France and shipped by river from New Orleans to Madison, the ornate light fixtures have withstood the test of time.
“I looked at the chandeliers and saw potential. I realized that those were one of a kind,” said Belinda Vernon. They made the move in May and have been tackling house renovations ever since.
The Vernons home will be one of eight featured on this year’s Tri Kappa Tour of Homes, which is scheduled for Oct. 1-3. Tour times are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Katie Grill, chair of this year’s tour and Tri Kappa member, said that tickets are good for the entire weekend. Attendees can either spread the tour out over two or three days or complete it all in one. “All the homes are within walking distance, but we recommend doing the tour over a couple days,” said Grill.
Grill said that with the exception of the historic Dr. Hutching’s Office, the homes on this year’s tour have never been featured before. “Many of the homes have been newly renovated,” said Grill. “Each has something unique that I think people will enjoy seeing.”
Matthew Temperly built the Vernons’ home on Mulberry Street in 1832. Temperly is also known for building Fire Station No. 2 and Christ Episcopal Church, which is located just across the street from the Vernons’ home.
“It’s been worked on constantly. There are little touches from every period,” said Jerome Vernon.
“Our goal was to make it livable and seal it up for the next 50 or 60 years.”
The Vernons will have the entire downstairs area of the house restored and are moving on to the upstairs bedrooms. The home’s previous owners added the master bedroom and two-car garage, as well as the pool and guesthouse.
The backyard has been completely transformed since the Vernons’ arrival. The pool and patio area is surrounded by lush landscaping and points the way to an inviting guesthouse that also couples as an Airbnb.
The home, also known as the McKee Powell White Home, has a rich history familiar to many in Madison. The home was originally built for James and Martha McKee, who owned and operated a dry goods store in downtown Madison. The McKee’s daughter, Maria, married into the Moffett family, and her son, Samuel Austin Moffett, is well known for being one of the earliest Presbyterian missionaries to Korea.

Vernon home

Photo courtesy of Brooke Peach

The Vernons reside in this home on Mulberry Street in Madison.

The Vernons have had several Korean visitors to their home since moving in, including a family whose great-great grandfather knew Moffett. They make the trip to Madison each year to say a prayer over the home. In the 1950s, the White family operated a prominent photography studio out of the home that many Madison residents remember.
Grill said that the tour will follow CDC guidelines for Madison at the time of the tour and that tour organizers would be in discussion with each homeowner regarding their levels of comfort about mask wearing.
The tour functions as a fundraiser for Tri Kappa’s philanthropic efforts. At the end of each school year, Tri Kappa gives out as many scholarships as they can to graduating seniors. Students from all area schools are given the opportunity to apply to receive a scholarship ranging from $500 to $1,500. Tri Kappa also provides grants for nonprofit organizations throughout the community, such as the Jefferson County Public Library.
“We’re hoping we get a good turnout this year with having to miss the tour last year,” said Grill. She said that Tri Kappa is hoping to play host to another tour next year to get back on their regular schedule of hosting on even years. There will be multiple hospitality sites on the tour, including Art on Main, 309 W. Main St. Approximately 175-200 volunteers help out with the tour as guides at various sites.

Tickets are $18 adults until Sept. 17, then $20. Tickets for children ages 6-10 are $6 until Sept. 17, then $8. Children 5 and under are free. Tickets may be purchased online or purchased at Madison Presbyterian Church. More information on purchasing tickets and the homes on the tour can be found at www.trikappatourofhomes.com.

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