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Home Improvements 

For the 20th year, Ohio City rolls out the welcome mat to its extreme residential makeovers.

Bernie Thiel claims he isn't amazed that the annual Ohio City Home Tour attracts thousands of gawkers, who want to see firsthand the Victorian- and Italianate-style houses in his neighborhood. But to hear him talk about the "wow factor" on today's nine-home tour, it's clear even he's in awe of the West 53rd Street digs that two guys bought in the '80s for $500 just three days before the wrecking ball was about to bring the place down. "It has a pretty large master suite with a huge bedroom, a big bathroom, sauna, exercise rooms, and sewing room. They've also got the only in-ground swimming pool in Ohio City," says Thiel, the tour's organizer. "And they've got the entire upstairs done up in this jungle theme, with a leopard-skin rug and jungle wallpaper. It's pretty crazy."With sightseers boarding a fleet of Lolly the Trolleys every 15 minutes, the tour spans Ohio City's 20-block area, from West 25th Street on the west to Lorain Avenue on the south and West 53rd Street on the east. To mark its 20th anniversary, it includes four "alumni homes" that have graced the tour in past years. "There are some incredible places, where the people who own these homes put their own unique perspective into decorating and renovating. You can walk down the street and not think so much about the outside. But inside, they're amazing," says Thiel. "We're fortunate to have this huge collection of architecture." The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the corner of Market Avenue and West 25th Street. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Call 216-781-3222 or visit
Sun., May 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 2008

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