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Close your eyes and remember Christmas of days long ago. Imagine strolling along Main Street, admiring beautiful homes adorned with garland and bows while listening to the distant sounds of Christmas music and the clickety-clack of a horse-drawn carriage.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to go back in time and experience those days again? Well you can during this year’s Wake Forest Christmas Historic Home Tour! The Wake Forest Historic Preservation Commission and the Wake Forest Woman’s Club will host the biennial tour of historic homes in Wake Forest, NC on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, from 1-7 p.m.
For nearly three decades – in even-numbered years – the Wake Forest Historic District has come alive on one Saturday afternoon in December with musicians, horse drawn carriage rides, decorations and historic homes and buildings showcasing almost 200 years of Wake Forest history. This year’s self-guided tour promises to be one of the best ever featuring approximately 10 homes and buildings beautifully decorated and available for viewing.
Each home is unique in regard to architectural style and décor. Some are simple homes while others are quite elaborate. A few have been completely restored while others are a work in progress. No matter, all combine to provide an unforgettable holiday experience.
Wake Forest is comprised of four historic districts, including the local Wake Forest Historic District, the Wake Forest National Register Historic District, the Downtown Wake Forest National Register Historic District and the Glen Royal Mill Village National Register Historic District. This year’s home tour includes properties in three of the four districts.
Established in 1979, the local Wake Forest Historic District is included in the Wake Forest National Register Historic district which in 2003 was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This designation illustrates Wake Forest’s rich heritage, as well as its early development spurred by its symbiotic relationship with the former Wake Forest College. (The college relocated to Winston Salem, NC in 1956 and became Wake Forest University. The original campus is now home to the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary).
Many of the homes on North Main Street were built by faculty at Wake Forest College. Most of the homes and buildings date from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Prevailing architectural styles in the district include Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Southern Colonial, and Bungalow.
The oldest house in the district and centerpiece of the tour is the circa 1820 Calvin Jones House at the Wake Forest Historical Museum. As a special treat during this year’s tour, a costumed actor will greet visitors to the museum. Dressed as the founding President’s wife, Mrs. Samuel Wait, she’ll share interesting stories about the early days of Wake Forest College.
In addition to the Wake Forest Historic District, the circa 1905, Glen Royal Baptist Church, located in the Glen Royall Mill Village National Register Historic District, will be open as part of the tour.
While you’re in Wake Forest on Dec. 6, be sure to maximize your experience by heading downtown for our annual Holiday Open House. Grab a bite to eat and enjoy holiday shopping either before or after the tour in our historic downtown which is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
We are pleased that what began over 30 years ago as a candlelight tour by the Wake Forest Woman’s Club is now a beloved holiday tradition that draws hundreds of visitors to Wake Forest. We invite you to join us on Saturday, Dec. 6, for an unforgettable Christmas experience – one you only imagined was possible.
For more information on the 2014 Wake Forest Christmas Historic Home Tour, visit the tour website or contact Michelle Michael at 919-435-9516.
(By Michelle Michael, Town of Wake Forest Senior Planner; Originally published in CIRCA Magazine; Photo courtesy of Dylan Morris)