Holiday House Tour to make return

By Tom Joyce -
This tree in the sunroom of the Gertrude Smith House will greet visitors during the holiday tour of homes. -
Joy Gardner stands at the front door of her home on Heatherstone Lane, which is on the Christmas Holiday House Tour. - Submitted photo

After taking a break in 2015, the Christmas Holiday House Tour is making its return this season with nine different locations to be included.

The tour, presented by the Mount Airy Restoration Foundation, has long been a popular holiday activity in which residents of unique local homes open their doors to the public. Houses are decorated for Christmas and offer a warm, inviting atmosphere that goes hand in hand with the season.

“It’s a beautiful introduction to the holidays,” said Betty Wright, a longtime leader of the Mount Airy Restoration Foundation.

The Christmas Holiday House Tour is a two-day event that is scheduled for next weekend, Dec. 3-4.

It will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 4.

The tour operates on a self-guided basis in which ticket holders can visit the participating locations in any order.

“It’s been going on 30 years,” Wright said, with the tour only halting once during that period — last year due to multiple factors including weather damage occurring to the historic William Alfred Moore House, one of the stops on the tour. “It would have been 31,” Wright said had that temporary interruption not occurred.

“People just love to visit the different houses,” she added regarding the longtime appeal of the Christmas Holiday House Tour.

It provides those who might have admired an older local home from the outside for years an opportunity to get an inside look while also picking up decorating hints.

This has been a formula for success.

“I think it’s because we show so much love in doing it,” Wright said of the tour. “It’s just a friendly way to start the season.”

Tickets cost $15, and are available at the Greater Mount Airy of Chamber of Commerce office, the Moore House and from Wright by calling 786-4512. Tickets also can be purchased at each location on the tour when it is held.

“They can use the tickets any way they see fit,” Wright said of the flexibility offered during the weekend in terms of visiting sites in any order.

The Christmas Holiday House Tour is the main source of income for the non-profit Mount Airy Restoration Foundation. Proceeds are used to maintain the Moore House, which the foundation owns, and its grounds.

Wright said along with the willingness of the owners to participate, homes are selected on the basis of the various architectural styles represented and being in an “easy-to-get-to” location.

Tour sites

The homes to be featured include those of:

• Terry and Becky Cagle, a Colonial-style house dating to 1908 which is located at 1904 Springs Road and has been undergoing renovations. For the holidays, Becky Cagle decorates in a traditional manner, coordinating the colors used on her four trees with those of the room décor. The dining room and nearby parlor employ burgundy and deep red ornaments with white and gold accents. A tree in the master bedroom is decked out in turquoise and silver. One tree is filled with ornaments made by the two Cagle children when they were small as well as ones the family has collected over the years.

• Joy Gardner, a condominium at 2117 Heatherstone Lane. The home contains five trees, including a small one in the den decorated in red, white and lime green and a larger tree in the living room decorated with many ornaments Gardner’s mother gave her through the years.

• The Todd and Tina Butcher home at 123 Westmoreland Lane, where they moved 19 years ago. It reflects Tina Butcher’s preference for the traditional when decorating for Christmas. There are multiple trees in the home, including one upstairs arranged in glass, silver and gold and a large family tree downstairs with ornaments that are reminders of the Butchers’ travels, or which were gifts from friends or made by their son when he was a child.

• Bob and Rhonda Bradley’s Colonial-style home at 341 Pinecreek Trail, which they built in 1984. Rhonda Bradley decorates the home in a traditional manner, with live greenery, berries and ornaments from family trips and those made by the couple’s kids and grandchildren over the years. Mrs. Bradley uses both live and artificial trees, depending on how much time she has to decorate. Usually, a wreath at the door and an urn of greenery welcome visitors.

• The Bradley family cabin located nearby on Lovills Creek. The cabin was originally a tobacco barn in Francisco in Stokes County, which was going to be bulldozed for a road project. But Bob Bradley bought the barn, deconstructed it and moved it to the couple’s property where it was carefully rebuilt. The barn was a one-room structure at that time, but the Bradleys later added a large pavilion and acquired a teepee that is furnished with a queen-size bed and furniture.

• Mark and Lesa Hensley’s home at 516 Country Club Road. For decorating purposes, the family mingles a variety of styles and themes into the décor. Sentimental family keepsakes are used side by side with newer, more-trendy items. Themes change year to year, but Lesa Hensley finds ways to use what she had from previous years instead of making many additional purchases for Christmas décor. Visitors will be entertained as they keep an eye on each nook and cranny for cute ideas they can use to decorate their own homes.

• The William Alfred Moore House at 301 Moore Ave. It is the oldest house in Mount Airy, built around 1862. Wright said each room is decorated with a Christmas theme, such as white Christmas, up on the rooftop, here comes Santa Claus and more, thanks to the efforts of local garden club members. “I think that is kind of unique,” she said. Tea will be served during the tour hours.

• The Gertrude Smith House at 708 N. Main St. The Victorian-Colonial Revival home, built around 1900, contains period antique furnishings and art reflecting the tastes of Smith, an interior decorator who was educated in New York City in the 1920s and was a passionate preservationist. Its Christmas features include a tree in the sunroom decorated in purple which provides a bright, festive appearance that enhances the colors on the wall and in nearby artwork. Wreaths and swags adorn the handrails of the home’s staircase.

• A church also is on the Christmas Holiday House Tour, Dobson Church of Christ. It is an older structure that has been remodeled with a new sanctuary added to the existing building in 2015. “It is a beautiful church now all modernized,” Wright said, which is located at 165 Dobson Church of Christ Road, just off U.S. 601.

The focal point of the new sanctuary is a round stained-glass window that was designed and hand-painted by Avery Wooten with Foothills Sand to Glass of Union Grove. During the tour, the sanctuary will have a 12-foot Christmas tree with white and silver ornaments and the church fellowship hall also will be decorated with a Christmas tree and hand-made centerpieces on tables. Refreshments will be served there throughout the tour.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

This tree in the sunroom of the Gertrude Smith House will greet visitors during the holiday tour of homes. tree in the sunroom of the Gertrude Smith House will greet visitors during the holiday tour of homes.

Joy Gardner stands at the front door of her home on Heatherstone Lane, which is on the Christmas Holiday House Tour. Gardner stands at the front door of her home on Heatherstone Lane, which is on the Christmas Holiday House Tour. Submitted photo

By Tom Joyce