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Victorian theme scores huge home tour hit

Staff photo by Mark Boehler

Serving as hostesses during the Christmas Candlelight Tour are Jacqueline Hibbard and Kate Bailey.

By L.A. Story


The Verandah-Curlee House was all dressed up for the holidays and visitors flocked to the party.

The rooms of the 1857 Greek Revival home once again echoed with voices and footfalls of people coming for the holidays, thanks to the efforts of the Little Garden Club (associated with National Garden Clubs, Inc.) and the Corinth Garden Club.

The hard work of club members was evident in the elaborate decorations which reflected this year's Victorian era theme for the Friday and Saturday evening Christmas Candlelight Tour. The theme was popular, judging by the steady flow of guests moving through the home.

The steps leading up to the front porch were lined with large lanterns and bracketed on each side by large floral and greenery displays. An arrangement of greenery and flowers also was affixed to the middle of the handrail leading up the stairs, lending a sense of drama which escalated at the entrance to the home.

The front entry was completely bordered with a garland of greenery and ribbon and the ornate Victorian theme was completed with a large wreath on the door itself.

The first room of the tour was the parlor. A glittering ribbon was wound through the garland which framed the fireplace and a large arrangement adorned the mantle. The room's drama was accentuated with backlighting that added both illumination and mood-setting shadows. There were smaller arrangements on accent tables.

Nell McGee with the Little Garden Club said the parlor was usually the first place where visitors were taken and was generally the most elegant room.

From there, visitors were led to the what was set up as the library. The room was decorated with a more masculine feel from the era. The room's fireplace featured three simple green wreaths connected by a splash of color with a simple blue satin ribbon. The mantle was bookended by two large vases featuring greenery, autumn-colored leaves and bright berries. The room's live tree was uniquely decorated with feathers, pinecones and miniature copies of Shakespearean books.

From the library, guests visited a bedroom decorated in Victorian style for a young lady. The room featured antique dolls. The fireplace mantle was lined with greenery which was interspersed with elaborately-detailed nutcrackers and the live tree featured hand-crocheted snowflake ornaments and white, ladies' gloves tied at the wrist with ribbon and used as ornaments.

Visitors moved from the bedroom back to the home's main hall where their first stop was a large Christmas tree and two young ladies in period dress - Jacqueline Hibbard and Kate Bailey.

Hibbard, who is a veteran of the Candlelight Tour, said she was there to tell visitors about the Victorian Christmas trees and how the tradition of having a Christmas tree came about and Bailey showed guests pictures from a book which displayed Christmas trees in reference to the Victorian era.

The main hall was also where guests gathered for entertainment, said McGee. The piano in the hall was decorated with porcelain angels, a crystal candelabra and a large floral arrangement.

From the hall, visitors meandered through the elegance of the formal dining room. A long taper candle was part of each fine china place setting and all surrounded an lavish centerpiece. Other highlights included a miniature Christmas tree on the fireplace mantle and a large, ornate floral arrangement.

The tour moved from the dining room through the butler's pantry and into the kitchen area, which was made aromatic with sprays of greenery. The butler's pantry featured a collection of Santas compliments of Crossroads area resident Donna Janzen.

From the kitchen, guests made their way to the enclosed back porch, where they were treated to the sights of greenery, glittering candles and a Father Christmas bearing gifts. From there, visitors followed their tour guide across the brick path to the cottage.

At the cottage, visitors were treated to hot wassail and homemade cookies. The cottage was decorated with elaborate greenery. The fireplace mantle featured a variety of greenery, including magnolia leaves, and large vases of apples and oranges. The center of the room featured a large three-tiered Christmas tree filled with Santas.

Each room had its own ambience but still adhered to the Victorian them. Different club members oversaw the design and decorating of specific rooms, McGee explained.

The greenery featured in the Candlelight Tour was from fir, spruce and cedar trees and all cut fresh from the Alcorn County area, according to Barbara Trapp, Little Garden Club member.

The Candlelight Tour only happens every other year and proceeds from ticket sales benefit the restoration of the Verandah-Curlee House. The house itself is designated a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior because of its Civil War history. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic places and is a Mississippi Landmark.

The next tour will take place in 2019.