Annual holiday homes tour reimagined: Weekend celebration of homes, heritage, and local businesses

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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By Ellen Brabo, For Washington Daily News

The annual holiday homes tour in Washington, North Carolina, underwent a transformative rebranding this year as “Holiday Homecoming: Exploring Homes, Heritage, and the Vibrant Local Business Scene.” The event, which serves as a fundraiser for the Beaufort County Arts Council (BCAC), featured a diverse array of local homes, historic churches, and a mix of new and well-established businesses.

The homes tour, held over December 1 and 2, was coordinated by Jayne Meisell for the second consecutive year. The decision to rebrand the tour this year was driven by the desire to accurately represent the diverse range of attractions and businesses featured. This year’s tour unfolded across various locations, including the Manifest Lofts, Griffin’s Farm, Little Inn at Washington, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, among others. Eight private residences welcomed visitors over the course of the two-day event.

“We have new businesses in town, and I wanted to bring awareness to them,” said Meisell. “To me, a lot of people don’t know what is downtown, and I wanted them to see.”

Petals and Produce, one of the featured businesses, showcased the art of handcrafting wreaths, offering visitors a glimpse into their creative process. Meisell, drawing from her own experience as a past business owner, underscored the importance of highlighting local enterprises. This shift in focus aimed to spotlight businesses that might be new to the community, fostering connections between entrepreneurs and potential customers.

Notably, the event showcased the talents and offerings of entrepreneurs like Courtney Spear, owner of Sun Moon and Bloom, a recently established flower shop that opened its doors in October.

“I thought it was great exposure for the flower shop, and I definitely appreciated being asked to be on the tour,” expressed Spear. “It was great to meet new people and talk to them about flowers…as well as enjoy the community during this time of the year.”

In addition to supporting local commerce, this year’s tour celebrated the 200th anniversary of the First Presbyterian Church, emphasizing the cultural and historical facets of the community. The inclusion of churches, complete with tours and an organist performance, added a layer of richness to the overall experience.

“I have never seen a tour like this before,” shared Marissa Artmayer Robertson, a resident of Avon, Indiana, who participated in both days of the tour. “The owners showed great pride in their homes and decorated so beautifully. I enjoyed learning more about this historic town.”

For those interested in contributing to the success of next year’s holiday homes tour, the community is encouraged to reach out to Kelly Shanafelt, the Executive Director for the BCAC, at

Founded in 1972, the BCAC, known as Arts of the Pamlico, has been a steadfast pillar in the community for 50 years. With a mission to empower the entire community, the organization supports creativity, nurtures collaboration, and presents performances, exhibits, and educational opportunities for all ages.