Tour gives a holiday look to many classic homes

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com
Get holiday decoration ideas on annual Christmas Homes Tour

Think Christmas decorations, and you might picture red ribbons, glittery ornaments or Santa Claus figurines.

On the Christmas Homes Tour, presented by Green Spring Garden Club, the six homes on display will feature Christmas decorations of the Colonial era – fresh and natural.

The 56th annual tour will occur throughout the day Dec. 5, one of many Grand Illumination weekend festivities.

This year's tour features six Colonial Williamsburg homes: Coke-Garrett House, Russell House, Ludwell-Paradise House, Prentis House, William Waters House and Grissell Hay Lodging House. The homes are private residences, many inhabited by Colonial Williamsburg employees.

"You get an inside look at an 18th-century style building and how 21st-century folks live within that arrangement," Marcia Hibbitts, club president, said.

Mitchell Reiss, president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, lives within Coke-Garrett House, a structure originally built between the late 1750s and 1837. Furnishings include a Massachusetts Hepplewhite pair of Martha Washington chairs, reproduced from the antique originals.

Another highlight includes Ludwell-Paradise, originally constructed in the mid-1700s. When John D. Rockefeller undertook Colonial Williamsburg's restoration, Ludwell-Paradise was the first historic property he purchased.

Tour co-chairs Kay Ruhf and Deanna Isemann have coordinated around 350 volunteers, who will produce nearly 300 floral decorations adorning tour homes.

Decorations are reminiscent of colonial times, piecing together natural ingredients: boxwood, holly, magnolia, fruits, nuts, cones and the like. A card naming materials used usually rests near each arrangement.

Homes on the tour might be repeated, but the creativity of arrangements differs year to year.

"It's always fun to go back to a house that you love, to see what's new, what's different, what have the arrangers done this year," Hibbitts said.

Hibbitts said many tour enthusiasts initiate their Christmas season with the homes tour, "getting ideas, having a jolly time," she said. "And then heading home and starting their own decorations."

All proceeds from the tour fund Green Spring Garden Club's philanthropies, as the club's sole fundraiser.

Philanthropies focus on horticultural education and community beautification. The club provides scholarships to The College of William and Mary, Christopher Newport University, Virginia Tech and Nature Camp. Additionally, funds contribute to garden restoration throughout Colonial Williamsburg, as well as Hospice House, Sentara Williamsburg and others.

Green Spring suggests wearing flat walking shoes. Interior photography, cell phone use, smoking, backpacks and pets are prohibited.

Tickets are available at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center and Williamsburg Lodge from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Dec. 4 and 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Dec. 5. Tickets are also available at each house location on the day of the tour. Cash and checks only.

For more information, visit greenspringgardenclub.org.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-275-4934.

Want to go?

When: Rain or shine – 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Dec. 5

Tickets: $10/single house, $35/block ticket

Coke-Garrett House: 465 E. Nicholson St.

Russell House: 403 E. Duke of Gloucester St.

Prentis House: 401 E. Duke of Gloucester St.

William Waters House: 311 E. Duke of Gloucester St.

Ludwell-Paradise House: 207 E. Duke of Gloucester St.

Grissell Hay Lodging House: 101 W. Nicholson St.

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