Homes Tour Benefits Tech Scholarship Fund

SOCORRO, N.M. December 5, 2012 – The 2012 AAUW Christmas Tour of Homes will be 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at four homes in Socorro. The cost is $10, which is to benefit the Socorro chapter of the AAUW and its scholarship fund for female students at Socorro High School and New Mexico Tech.

Here are short descriptions of the four homes, followed by longer descriptions.


Sandra Qureshi - 605 Miller Place

Newly renovated for Sandy who moved from Tucson in May, and is already active in Socorro life, the house displays artifacts from Pakistan and Arizona and a Zia symbol on the kitchen tile floor. Sandy treasures her veranda across the back of her house.


Norma and Bill Lorang - 315 Mt. Carmel Avenue

A truly custom home designed by Bill and Norma who acted as their own contractor. A home for entertaining with 14-foot ceilings, corner fireplace, New Mexico folk art and Norma’s quilted creations, ingeniously tucked into an historical neighborhood. Music group performances led by Elise Brower.


Joan and John Meason - 225 Fisher Avenue

Built in 1912 by Jesus and Maria Torres, this charming home is a colorful combination of Victorian design and modern decoration. Pressed-tin ceilings, bright colors and treasured objets d'art reflect the couple's personalities and interests. Park on either side of the house.


Betty and Vernon Houston - 515 Center

This home started as a 900-square-foot adobe which the Houstons added to over the years in building a custom home designed for comfort, entertaining – and for grandkids! See what time and vision can create. Parking space is beyond the main gate; watch for sign. Refreshments will be served.


Sandy Qureshi - 605 Miller Place

            The first thing Sandy Qureshi and her son, Omar, noticed about the home at 605 Miller Place was the mix of light and trees – they also saw the home’s potential, particularly the large, fenced-in backyard and covered porch.

            The result is a reflection of Sandy’s personality and Omar’s design influences in transforming an older home into one with lots of color and contemporary touches.


 The porch at the home of Sandy Qureshi, which will be featured on the 2012 AAUW Homes Tour.


            Local retailers will be pleased to learn that, with few exceptions, Sandy didn’t haul off to Albuquerque for additional home furnishings, but found everything she needed right here in River City.

            One gets a warm and welcoming feeling at the Qureshi home, from the clean white-with-red-trimming exterior, to the bench near the front door and assorted outdoor potted plants.

            Inside, the home opens to an artful mix of light and color.

            “I love the (home’s) open feeling, and the light shade from the house facing south,” Sandy said, whose last residence was an apartment in a Tucson retirement community.

            Indeed, the home’s natural warmth is enhanced by a 200-year-old, garnet-toned Queen Anne-styled chair, recently reupholstered and sitting near a pot-bellied stove that serves as a heating source for the entire area.

            Follow the contrasting burgundy-colored ceramic tile to the living room, where the color theme is carried out in upholstery, window shades and an Indian rug used as a wall hanging. A nest of rosewood tables and a carved cabinet in rosewood from Pakistan complete the décor.

            The room is divided by a half-wall, which curves around to the kitchen. A dining table and buffet, both in Mexican pine, serve as a room divider.

            Of note is the kitchen floor tile laid by her son that includes a Zia symbol fashioned from contrasting tile in a burnt orange shade. The kitchen is well appointed with a gas stove, stainless steel sinks and lots of storage cabinets, and the rug was bought at the Mother’s Day Pow Wow.

            A guest room is painted in soothing shades of blues and greens complemented by a chenille spread and Pakistani-themed throw pillows. A painting depicting a snowy street scene and other artwork complete the restful ambiance.

            Sandy’s room is a lemon-yellow confection, from the walls to the bed cover, throw pillows and framed artwork. A hanging star bathes the room in golden light, and serves as a focal piece. By the way; Sandy purchased the metal bed frame locally.

            A third bedroom is dedicated to Qureshi’s grandson, with toys, books, a large armoire and full-sized futon bed.

            Turquoise is the theme color for the master bath with its walk-in shower; while a hall bathroom is decked out in red and black.

            Sandy admits to spending a lot of time in the backyard, with its cement slab and covered porch – and lawn furniture covered in Mexican blankets. A particularly striking feature is the meditation maize designed and built by Omar, near a small waterfall and mature shade trees, which make for a peaceful ambiance.

            Following the death of her husband, Mohsin Qureshi of Pakistan, Sandy relocated to Socorro to move closer to her son, who lives with his partner in Magdalena; all have discovered the joys of life in an area saturated with tri-cultural flavor. Omar, a former Peace Corps member and teacher at Alamo Reservation, now operates a landscape business.

            Even though Sandy hasn’t lived long in Socorro, she is busy with volunteer wo4rk through AAUW, APAS, the homeless shelter and El Camino Real International Heritage Center.

            Things to look for in the Qureshi home: An Atlas clock, which operates on atmospheric pressure; a needlepoint canvas of fighting cocks made by Sandy’s mother; a metal sculpture of a covey of quail; and a beautiful table with inlaid brass and Pakistani carvings.


Norma and Bill Lorang - 315 Mt. Carmel Avenue

            Tucked away off Mt. Carmel Street in a neighborhood of historic dwellings is the home custom-designed and built by an engineer and his artistic wife, both with a history of service to the Socorro community.

            Since they moved to Socorro 17 years ago, William (Bill) and Norma Lorang have been active in community affairs; and, as such, have opened the doors of their beautiful home to benefit one cause or another. This year marks their second time as Christmas Tour hosts.


The great room in the home of Bill and Norma Lorang, wihich will be featured in the 2012 AAUW Homes Tour.


            “We built this home for comfort and convenience,” Norma said, adding that the house is the couple’s fourth, “so we knew what we wanted.”

            Norma was born in southeastern New Mexico; in fact, her great-grandparents homesteaded in Cottonwood Creek, with ties to New Mexico politics. Bill, too, was raised in the Land of Enchantment, so their love of the culture and its customs comes naturally.

            The Lorangs named the lane leading to their home “Calle Jubilacion.” Norma loves to decorate for the holidays, so expect both the “lane” and the home to be dressed in their holiday best!

            One only has to walk up to the front door, with its whimsical window paintings, for a hint of what’s inside. Entering the vestibule, first thing you see is a quilted holiday-themed wall hanging, Nativity scene, and the most delightful mariachi musician!

            A large Kiva fireplace takes center stage in the great room, with its 14-foot ceiling, hand-woven Navajo rugs, ceramic floor, leather couches and a wall of bookshelves. Overhead vigas were carved from dead-standing Colorado spruce trees (“they don’t warp,” said Bill).

The artfully designed dining area, with its carved-out niche lined with recessed lighting and a granite-topped cabinet, is further illuminated by a metal-and-glass chandelier, one of several in the home.

            The farmhouse-styled kitchen styled in ivory and cobalt blue, is designed for convenience (the Lorangs are well known for their culinary skills), featuring custom cabinetry by Vaughan Allen of Magdalena, metal-and-glass hanging lanterns and a small island.

            Look for images of patron saints linked to farming and kitchens, including San Pascual driving a vintage red truck.

            The couple’s personal quarters are down the hall from the kitchen, along walls studded with cultural emblems of the southwest, among them religious icons, santos and small paintings.

            Serenity is a word that comes to mind when entering the master bedroom, with its painted-washed walls in shades of periwinkle (a two-part project Norma did herself), quiet sitting area; and an armoire and large metal canopy bed (with a rain cloud

headboard motif), pieces designed by Norma and built by her husband.

            Each has his and her own day rooms – Norma’s includes an L-shaped counter and cutting table for her quilts. Look for a dollhouse and her latest work in progress.

            But the master of the house didn’t skimp when it came to his room, a man cave before the term was ever coined, with its dark leather furniture, animal skin rug, western rope and saddle, and large-screen television. Ah, but the pièce de résistance is an enormous, six-by-six elk trophy.

            And don’t be surprised to see a life-size, standing image of John Wayne.

            In a sense, the Lorang home is a virtual museum with its large collection of framed art and artifacts. “Most of the art is done by friends, relatives – or by Bill himself,” Norma said.

            Her own artistry is painting with fabric and color – and in decorating her home for major holidays as only Norma can.

            Things to keep an eye out for: Wall sconces, a metal sculpture of prancing rams replicating pictographs found in El Morro, a Murphy bed and statuary in several mediums.

            “We enjoy living in Socorro,” Norma said. “Yes, we do enjoy travel, but it’s always good to come home.”

            And for the Lorangs, home is a mighty special place.


Joan and John Meason – 225 Fisher Street

             An historic adobe home built 100 years ago, coinciding with New Mexico’s transition from territorial status to statehood, will be featured on the AAUW Christmas Tour of Homes. Joan and John Meason have graciously agreed to open their home to the public in support of AAUW scholarships for women.

            Officially known as the Jesus Maria Torres Home, the site joined the list of the state’s historic homes in1978; it includes a washhouse, office/workshop and guest quarters – only the main home will be on the tour.

AAUW2012Meason Exterior-copy-copy

The exterior of the home of John and Joan Meason, which is on the 2012 AAUW Homes Tour.


            The home is distinctive for being the first in town constructed with a hipped roof design. It was built with adobe, but all of the trim and doors were purchased by mail-order through the Crabtree Lumber Company.

            Visitors are invited to park on either side of the home and enter through the front door.

            The couple was drawn to the house because of its location. “We always wanted to live downtown by the square,” said Joan, who with her husband moved to Socorro 11 years ago. The home is historic, and so are much of its contents, retrieved from storage back in their home state of Texas.

            “There is nothing new in this house,” Joan said, adding that the living room furniture dates back to 1927 and belonged to John’s grandmother. The edifice retains its original pressed-tin ceiling tiles – and 11-foot-ceiling – with refurbished hardwood floors.

            Victorian and art deco themes permeate much of the home, especially in the living room with its fireplace, objets d’art and a large oil painting of “The Cloth Merchants,” chosen by Joan. Her collection of crosses fills an entire wall, and she created the stencil artwork above the kitchen counter.

            Take time to admire the room’s decorative elements, mostly antique, which reflect the character of the historic residence itself, redolent of another time and another place.

            “Every house needs yellow in some room,” Joan said; and, for her, that room is the kitchen; which, in terms of modern convenience, bears little resemblance to the kitchen of a century ago with its gourmet gas stove and built-in amenities.

            The washhouse off the kitchen once served as a summer kitchen. And the home’s original bedrooms were made smaller to accommodate indoor plumbing, which modern folk hardly consider a luxury!

            If every house also needs a splash of red, the master bedroom, with its own sitting room, fits the bill. Contemporary artwork complements vermillion-red walls. A previous owner carved out space for a closet, which was not standard for some homes of its era.

            “John’s room” or office, painted in an eggplant shade, features a lacquered eight-sided screen as a visual focal point. A large bookshelf, family photos and eclectic artwork make for an elegant yet comfortable working space, and ideal for reading.

            “This is a neat house you can do anything with,” Joan said, giving kudos to George McLeod, a previous owner, who, she said, did a great job on the floral landscape with its bright and hardy perennials.

            “We looked at houses all over town, but kept coming back to this one,” Joan continued. “And the grandkids love coming here, too.”

            Joan was told that an adobe house has a personality all its own. “It’s true,” she said, adding that such personality traits often are audible after sunset, when the house, like its inhabitants, settles in for the night.

            The Measons are parents to two sons and have three grandchildren, all males, one of whom graduated from New Mexico Tech. The couple moved to Socorro when John accepted a position as director of the EMRTC division at the college.

            In touring the historic dwelling, keep an eye out for unusual artwork and design elements, and listen for any signs of the home’s nocturnal personality.


Betty and Vernon Houston - 515 Center Street

The home of Betty and Vernon Houston shows what can be done over time, and with creative vision and a whole lot of hard work. The late Bob Aufill built the original 900-square foot home with its 18-inch adobe walls, which Vernon bought in 1955 under the G.I. Bill.

Betty joined Vernon in the home after their marriage 47 years ago. And the rest, as they say, is home history in living color.


The exterior of the home of Betty and Vernon Houston.


The Houstons are well known in the business community, from the early days of Fashion Cleaners on N. California St., to Betty’s Legacy as the Owner Broker of Running n Real Estate and currently as an Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Real Estate. His-and hers offices attest to their separate and joined interests, in a home filled with family photos, antique furniture, and artwork everywhere, much of it by local artists.

As such, Betty has a catalogued listing of every painting, print, photo and family

heirloom in the home.

She noted that the foundation for the primary expansion was laid in 1972, and they moved into the upstairs in 1981.

In all, the Houston compound comprises five pieces of land, including their own storage units which at one time were filled with vintage autos, Vernon’s pride and joy. Now, the collection is down to three – a ’57 Chevy Belair, ’46 Buick convertible and 1919 Model T Ford.

Visitors are invited to enter through the front door and into the living room with its faux fireplace, big-screen television, and an organ that belonged to Betty’s mother. The clock is from a trip to Switzerland. A photo from that era will be on display here

Every home has its heart, and for the Houston’s, it’s their game room and brick-walled kitchen, the latter built by Phil Gonzales with tile work by Johnny Marquez. “I pushed the wheelbarrow, and Vernon gave orders,” Betty said, adding that the couple completed the addition themselves.

The free-standing kitchen cabinet, with its built-in flour sifter and roll top, belonged to Betty’s family; refinishing it took three years. And check out the glass curio cabinet – a wall, really! – a testament to family adventures and personal anecdotes.

The kitchen is a cook’s delight, with built-in appliances, plenty of prep space and

cabinets, a long counter and lots of light designed for family gatherings and entertaining.

Speaking of entertainment, check out the game room with its Nickelodeon that still plays old ‘78s, and pinball machine and video game from a past era of game-playing. Friends christened it the “Den of Iniquity,” and a sign testifies to the fact.

“We traded an old coffin to Jack Myers for the video game,” Betty said; while the piano, bought from a Tech student, took six men to move. They also traded dirt for the flagstone flooring, which they laid themselves. Look for a Vivian Drewien painting of Vernon’s brother.

Sleeping quarters are upstairs, featuring extra-large bedrooms, each with its own sink and mirror, large enough to serve double-duty as sitting rooms. Off Betty’s bedroom is an outdoor patio facing California St., ideal for an evening of relaxation

The former Adobe “factory” print is on the south wall of Vernon’s room. Bunk beds and plenty of play-space for the Houston’s two grandsons occupy the room of the Houston daughters. The horse collection was Deanna’s; Debra built the headboard and did the sculpture.

Step out the south entry and enjoy the view of M Mountain while entering the hot tub room. “It’s lovely in the winter when it’s snowing and you are sitting there looking out,” Betty said.

On the way out, note the pool, hand-dug with a one man slip scraper. “It took plenty of beer busts to get it done,” said Vernon. A built-in barbecue and patio get plenty of use.

The Houston’s do have a second home along the Mexican shore, and they both enjoy travel. But when they return home, it’s really home – and it’s clear to see why.


-- NMT --

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech