Tickets on sale for annual Christmas tour of homes

Published 5:23 pm Thursday, October 24, 2019

Some are historic. Others were crafted in the mid-20th century. One is a stately home that tells the tale of the old south and a prominent Washington family. Another came to fruition courtesy of a Washington High School shop class — now it’s a remodeled coastal cottage with an interesting backstory.

What they all have in common is their presence on the list of homes that are a part of Arts of the Pamlico’s 2019 Holiday Homes Tour.

GRAND DAME: Built in 1923, Bowers Hall is a stately home on North Market Street, and one of two homes in the area on the 2019 Holiday Homes Tour, an annual fundraiser for Arts of the Pamlico.

Tickets are already on sale for this holiday event, held Dec. 7 in conjunction with the Kiwanis/City of Washington Christmas parade and AOP’s Holiday Christmas Shop. In its 19th year, the Holiday Homes Tour got its start as a fundraiser for the Turnage Theaters Foundation, but has since transitioned into a fundraiser for Arts of the Pamlico, after AOP purchased the Turnage Theatre in 2013 and made its new home there.

It’s always been a popular event — one that brings in visitors across eastern North Carolina and really launches the holiday season, according to organizer Virginia Finnerty.

“I think, No. 1, (participants) get into the mood for decorating; they get into the Christmas spirit and the holiday; and then they get ideas,” Finnerty said.

MID-CENTURY: Located in the western part of the downtown historic district, the home of Frannye Fowle, though built in the mid-19th century, is considered a contributing structure to the historic district.

This year, eight homes are featured on the tour: two on the west side of the downtown historic district; four on the east side of the downtown historic district; and another two in the Market Street historic district, north of Fifth Street. Included among them are Bowers Hall, built in 1923 by Benson & Benson architects and a perfect twin to the home across Market Street built in 1920 by Augustus L. Bowers; Moss House on Van Norden Street, built in 1902 and featuring a brick, yard-level veranda, a tie to Washington’s past Caribbean connection.

“Of the eight homes, seven of them have not been on the tour in the last 10 years, and the eighth, the Moss House has new owners,” Finnerty said.

Included on the tour again this year is a sponsor of the event, The Rich Company, which boasts a display of owners Tom and Georgia Atkins’ collection of nutcrackers along with refreshments.

CARIBBEAN ROOTS: Also on the Holiday Homes Tour, the Moss House is known for a unique feature — a brick veranda at yard level, rather than the more common porch.

The goal of the Holiday Homes Tour is to not only give participants a peek behind doors that are normally closed to the public, but to show the vast array of décor that comes with Christmas.

“We want a variety — there’s bigger homes, smaller homes; there’s a variety we’re looking for. Sometimes people will say their house is not grand enough, but that has nothing to do with it,” Finnerty said. “We want people to decorate in their own personal styles. We want to see what people do as their tradition.”

Tickets for the Holiday Homes Tour can be purchased for $20 in advance from Arts of the Pamlico, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Little Shoppes (AOP and Little Shoppes can take credit cards, Finnerty said). On the day of the event, tickets are $25 and can only be purchased at AOP or at the homes. The self-guided tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

At each home, participants on the tour can sign up for a drawing. The winner will receive a gift basket filled with a variety of items, from wine to gift certificates to home décor, provided by downtown Washington merchants.

For more information about the Holiday Homes Tour, visit or call 252-946-2504.

FIRST SUBURB: The East 10th Street home of Ed and Pam Hodges was built in the 1940s, a cottage typical of what was then Nicholsonville, a “suburb” of Washington.