CEDAR FALLS – Nancy Price still might recognize the home at 410 W. Seerley Blvd., as one of the locations she wrote about in her best-selling novel, “Sleeping with the Enemy.”
Bettina Fabos and Christopher Martin fell in love with the Craftsman-influenced home in 2007. They updated the house, adding a front porch which Chris says “seemed like it should always have been there.”
In 2015, the garage caught fire and the pre-dawn blaze spread to the home’s roof, burning its way through the attic and second story. It took nine months for Magee Construction to rebuild the house to resemble the original home.
It is one of five Price-related homes on the College Hill Tour of Homes.
The event is from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 each, available in advance at the Hearst Center for the Arts, Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau and Sidecar Coffee Shop on the College Hill.
On tour day, tickets will be sold at the UNI President’s House and at the Seerley Park shelter. There will be music and a lemonade stand and cookies in the park.
Price, now 92, of Cedar Falls, is the focus of this month’s Cedar Falls Authors Festival, a year-long celebration of the community’s five nationally known best-selling authors. It began in May with the late Robert James Waller, followed by Ruth Suckow and now Price. In September, James Hearst will be feted, followed by Bess Streeter Aldrich in October.
The home tour is part of the Price weekend, which also features an outdoor showing of the suspense thriller based on Price’s novel, “Sleeping with the Enemy” on Friday night at Seerley Park.
There will be a beer garden and music, followed by the movie at dusk. A panel discussion on the novel vs. the film will take place at 2 p.m. next Sunday at the Hearst Center for the Arts.
“We wanted to celebrate Seerley Park and the whole neighborhood which has so many beautiful old homes, as well as celebrate Nancy’s books,” says Mary Brammer, a festival organizer.
Price has written 13 novels to date, including five set in Cedar Falls. The most famous is “Sleeping with the Enemy,” released in 1987, and made into the 1991 movie starring Julia Roberts.
The best-selling author lived on the park’s west side for many years and set many of the book’s scenes on the park’s east side. The movie, however, was filmed in South Carolina.
The tour also features two other homes described in the book, as well the home where Price and her husband, Howard Thompson, reared their three children, and the University of Northern Iowa president’s house, where Price lived while her father, Malcolm Price, served as university president from 1940 to 1950.
At 2310 Tremont St., visitors will recognize Price’s description of character Ben Woodward’s home: “It had a gabled roof and its red shingled and brick front was outlined in white, so that it looked like a child’s Crayon drawing of a barn …” or “a reddish brown chocolate layer cake with white frosting oozing out between stories.”
She used the house at 2316 Tremont St., as inspiration for the house her main character, Sara, rents. It has been remodeled, including an expanded kitchen and master suite.
Price was 15 when she moved into the UNI President’s House. In 1945, Price married Howard Thompson, and the home was used for her wedding reception.
The couple moved into a house at 2309 Iowa St., in 1955. Price, an avid artist, painted two murals on the home’s walls, recalling the family’s favorite places in Italy. She gardened and kept bees in the backyard and wrote in a small room at the top of the stairs.
Her daughter, Catherine, sold it in 2003.
Price’s first novel, “A Natural Death,” has been brought out recently as a revised and illustrated hardback. It was an Atlantic Monthly Press Book in 1973, an historical novel that follows the lives of a black couple and a white slave mistress in South Carolina’s slave society before the Civil War.
The novel received fine reviews at the time, including those of major historians such as Carl Degler, “and seems timely for the world of today,” Price says.
“This book was written in our family home on the west side of Seerley Park, and the illustrations I have drawn for it will be among others at the Hearst exhibition of my prints,”she explains.
Copies will be sold at the Price-related events, including an exhibition of her illustrations and the panel discussion next Sunday at the Hearst Center.
Festival organizers have placed a native fieldstone plaque in Seerley Park honoring Price, as well as the park’s long history and the historic community surrounding it.
The author’s next novel, “Three at the Door,” will appear early next year. Almost all of the novel takes place on or near Seerley Park in the 1950s. Illustrations from the book are part of the Hearst Center exhibit.