Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Trees, lights, candles, music, stockings, gifts and sweet treats adorn households everywhere in anticipation of the holidays.
Christmas continues to be an all-time favorite and the Woman’s Club of Fayetteville loves it, too, which is why the group hosts its annual Christmas Tour of Homes. This year, it falls on Sunday, Dec. 6 from 1 – 6 p.m.
“This is something we have had for the last 15 years and it is our big fundraiser of the year,” said Elaine Kennebeck, president of the Woman’s Club. “We have to keep the historical buildings of Heritage Square maintained and preserved.”
Kennebeck added that every year they have better attendance because people look forward to the home tours and they are the only ones doing something this large.
The addresses of the seven homes on the tour are:
• The Sandford House (circa 1797) and the Oval Ballroom (circa 1818) located at 225
• Joshua and Adam Gray-Heim at 118 Hillside Ave.
• Lynn Pryor and Bob Dees at 647 Brandts Lane
• Tim Edwards and Bill Jordan at 114 Hale Street
• Stephanie and Mamo Meaza at 3004 Rathburn Court
• Carol Ann and Lockett Tally at 2222 Bayview Drive
• Private Haymount Residence at 1414 Raeford Road
“The homes this year are fabulous and probably the nicest homes that we have ever had,” said Kennebeck. “It has gone from years ago asking people to show their homes and hoping they would follow through and now we already have four houses waiting for next year’s home tour.”
Kennebeck added that people are calling the club wanting their home on the Christmas tour. The event has been very successful the last couple of years. She would like to raise $10,000 this year.
The Woman’s Club of Fayetteville was organized in 1946. The organization is responsible for Fayetteville’s first public rest rooms, teachers’ first retirement plans and many other projects.
“Our only mission is to preserve and maintain the historical homes of Heritage Square,” said Kennebeck. “We recently had a silent auction to help bring in funds.”
The homes of Heritage Square are the Sandford House, the Oval Ballroom and the Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House. The Sandford House is the largest house and was rented in 1941 by the Woman’s Club from its owners. It was used as living quarters for single working women in the city. It was also used as a space for women’s organizations to meet. Soldiers would spend time at the Sandford House fellowshipping with the women and their friends. The house has an assembly room which is used as a meeting place for the Woman’s Club.
“Many families have lived in the Sandford House and it has so much history,” said Kennebeck. “It used to be the Second Bank of the United States and a boarding house for young ladies coming into town to work at the court house or doctor’s offices.”
The Oval Ballroom was donated to the Woman’s Club by Mrs. M. B. McLean and the main purpose of the building has become a photo-op for brides. It is furnished by pieces donated by the Colonial Dames. The unique structure is an elongated octagon on the outside and a perfect oval on the inside. It is registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The Oval Ballroom used to be the dining room on the Halliday House,” said Kennebeck. “It was renovated about 12 years ago by the Colonial Dames.”
The Woman’s Club owns the building but the Colonial Dames are responsible for the renovations and upkeep of the house.
The Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House, an example of Georgian architecture, was built in 1804 and is believed to have been built by ship builders from the north who came down south in the winter to build homes. The house has a beautiful circular staircase that winds to the second story.
“Nothing had been done to this house for years and years,” said Kennebeck. “When I became president, I took this on as a project for the club to raise enough funds to renovate that house.”
Kennebeck added that they have basically rebuilt the entire outside of the house, which now boasts a new roof, new siding, painting and new front and back porches. The Woman’s Club would eventually like to lease the house to a law firm or a restaurant so they will have a monthly income from that property.
The club’s main goal is to renovate the exterior of the Sandford House because it needs a lot of work.
“We don’t get any money from the state or local government at all,” said Kennebeck. “We have a couple of small grants we get each year and the rest is dues and donations.”
Tickets for the Christmas homes tour are $15 and can be purchased at The Pilgrim in Westwood Shopping Center, the Woman’s Club at Heritage Square, Bell’s Seed Store, City Center Gallery and Books, High Cotton Consignment, J. Co. Salon & Blo’ Dry Bar and the featured homes on the tour.
“We look forward to a huge turn out for our tour of homes this holiday season because this year is going to be absolutely fabulous,” said Kennebeck.
For more information about the tour or other upcoming events, visit www.womansclubfay.org or call 705-7338.