Homes tour raises nearly $10,000

Published 11:12 am Friday, December 10, 2010

Staff Writer

Hundreds of sightseers took to the sidewalks to benefit the Turnage Theaters Foundation last weekend.
The foundation’s A Christmas Tour of Homes raised nearly $10,000 for the Turnage Theater, said Scotty Henley, executive director of the foundation.
The tour, held this past Saturday, attracted 485 ticket-holding patrons, according to Mary Jane Cooke, a Turnage volunteer and a member of the foundation’s board.
About 100 of those tickets were sold on the day of the event, according to Katherine Buchholz, box-office manager.
“It was very, I should say, heartwarming,” said Cooke. “People did this just to make the Turnage be able to have a great day, as far as funds. We were just delighted.”
The tour featured 12 homes within walking distance of downtown Washington.
According to attendees, some of the homeowners, in addition to opening their homes’ doors for the tour, served refreshments and shared insights into the histories of their residences.
Tour-takers were treated to a box lunch, with seating available in the Turnage lobby.
Board member Melina Menzie said the lobby was decorated by Deborah Page Wright, who pulled double duty by offering decorating tips and suggestions to some of the homeowners.
Stationed in the houses were theater students clad in Victorian-era costumes and other finery.
The students were brought in by Jeff Phipps, costume designer and design area coordinator for East Carolina University’s School of Theatre and Dance.
“The kids had a great time,” Phipps commented. “They all said it was so much fun.”
Phipps said he enlisted 10 of his students and one assistant, a former student, dividing them among the houses with costumes that corresponded to the period in which each house was built.
“A lot of these students are design students and they have taken classes in design, and a lot of them have worked on the pieces they were wearing,” he said.
The students spent some of their time explaining how their Victorian counterparts got dressed, what they wore and why.
“It was an extremely successful event, especially given the amount of activity that went on that day,” said Henley. “We had a great deal of participation with our board members as well as our patron-volunteers that helped prepare the lobby, the food, the desserts.”
Much of the food was made by volunteers, Menzie related.
“We were charged mostly with making sure we gathered enough volunteers … to prepare the right number of sandwiches based on the tickets we had sold,” said Menzie.
Some of the volunteers also worked to drive up ticket sales, putting fliers in mailboxes and canvassing their neighborhoods to sell tickets, she said.
“We started early,” Menzie said.
Volunteer Cindy Davis said Cooke organized the box lunch.
“Mary Jane is such a wonderful organizer,” Davis commented. “She just had things really set up so well that it went real well. She’s just real good at what she does.”
Among the items on the lunch-makers’ plate was the task of making enough sandwiches and packing the right number of cookies and pieces of fruit, Davis said.
“I think it was very well organized, that was one reason it was a success,” she said, “and the homes were just beautiful.”