12Heritage Square Each year, the Heritage Square Historical Society of Fayetteville presents A Christmas Tour of Homes. It is a one-day-only event showcasing some of Fayetteville’s finest, most decadently decorated homes. Sunday, Dec. 2, the society invites the public to enjoy this year’s tour and celebrate the beauty of the season.

Stops on the tour include the homes of Jesse Byrd, Nancy and Murray Duggins, Nicole and Brian Raynor and the Heritage Square Historical Society of Fayetteville. It’s a perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit or to enjoy a girls’ day out — or both. It’s become a tradition for many.

“We’ve done this for 17 years,” said Heritage Square Historical Society of Fayetteville President Elaine Kennebeck. “People come year after year and love it. We have big, beautiful homes in Fayetteville decorated to the nines.”

Even if decorating is not a priority, Kennebeck added that there are other reasons people go on the tour of  homes. “Some go for decoration ideas, and some go for architecture. We have seven to eight garden clubs involved, and they each decorate a room in fresh greens. This year’s theme is Santa Claus.”

Proceeds from the event benefit the historical society, which is the home of three unique historical homes located at 225 Dick St. The homes are The Sandford House, the Oval Ballroom and the Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House. With histories woven into Fayetteville’s earliest days, the historical society has taken on the task of preserving these structures and the stories that unfolded within their walls and on their properties.

The Sandford House dates to 1797 and is said to have housed Gen. Sherman’s troops when the Union forces occupied Fayetteville.

The Oval Ballroom was once home to a socialite accused of poisoning her husband. Her 1850 trial was dubbed the “trial of the century.”

Property for the Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House was secured in 1781 on a 24-acre plot of land. It was headquarters for Gen. Sherman’s troops during the Civil War.

Formerly known as the Fayetteville Woman’s Club, the history-focused group changed its name to better reflect its mission. “Our only mission in the club is to preserve and maintain these homes,” said Kennebeck. “There are so few historic homes left in Fayetteville. It is important with all the (historic) houses we are losing in this the city that we keep this property going.”

The society hosts a few fundraisers a year, but sharing the buildings with the public and helping people understand why the structures are important is a big part of what it does as well.

“We rent out the property for wedding showers and things like that,” said Kennebeck. “We have beautiful grounds. The property is for people to enjoy. Our rental fees are probably the cheapest in the area. If you are looking for an authentic Southern wedding, this is a great place. We have a full working kitchen, which caterers love. People can bring their own food. We are kind to the people who rent from us.”

Tickets for A Christmas Tour of Homes cost $20 and are available for purchase at Bell’s Seed Store, The Pilgrim, and Heritage Square. To learn more or to purchase tickets another way, call 910-483-6009 or visit www.heritagesquarefay.org.

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