2017 Bells of Christmas Home Tour
Athens Ladies Civitan Presents Annual Bells of Christmas Home Holiday Tour December 10th
... a 1915 Craftsman bungalow in the historical district and a 6,000-square-foot Georgian mansion just off the Square built in 1902 that will soon open as a bed and breakfast. The tour will also include a 1930s farmhouse rental and Southern produce market, each offering a glimpse into the Christmas traditions of their owners.
Tickets are $15 in advance and available at the following merchants:
Crawfords Gifts; Pimentos; Pam’s Home Furnishings; First National Bank on U.S. 72; Class Act Hair Salon; and Kathleen’s Corner Hair Salon.
Tickets will be on sale at Pimentos and Crawford's through Saturday, Dec. 9. All other outlets will have tickets until 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8.
Tickets may also be purchased for $20 on the day of the tour at any of the homes. Children under 13 may attend free but must be accompanied by an adult. Strollers are not allowed inside the homes.
Guests who have their tickets stamped at all six houses and turn them in at the end of the day may qualify for door prizes provided by Osbornes Jewelers, Hobbs Jewelers, Pimentos, SheaLeigh’s Boutique, Crawfords Gifts and Duggers Florist.
Local caterers providing samples of holiday fare at the houses will be:
• Chuck and Angie Clark of C&A Catering;
• Margaret & Larry Fite of Food Fite Café Catering and Carryout;
• Kelli Minyard of Sweet Thymes Bakery;
• Beverly Scott of Honeysuckle Café; and
• Suzanne Schrimsher of Suzanne’s Bakery and Eatery.
For additional information, call Carolyn Stair at 256-658-1985 or Carol Malone at 256-777-2918.
The Clem Home
Home of Mary Nelle Clem
Catering by Food Fite
Directions: From U.S. 72 West, turn north on Clinton Street and then right on Washington. House is on the left before you get to the city cemetery.
Built in 1915 this goldenrod-colored Craftsman bungalow, located in the historical district of Athens, is known to many Athenians as the Whitt House for Asa Alfred Whitt, an Athens policeman, and his wife Eva Forrest Matlock Whitt, who owned the house in the 1930s and 1940s.
Their daughters, Geraldine, a math teacher at Athens High School, and her sister, neither of whom ever married, lived in the house for many years following their parents’ deaths. Geraldine would use the alley at the back of the house to pull her car in the garage that is now used as a storage building. Alleys used to be used by homeowners to have access to their property.
The fireplaces used coal, and you still find coal in the backyard under the tree where there was a coal pile. The home has had several owners since then.
Mary Nelle Clem, who purchased the house three years ago, has mixed hard-to-find antiques from estate sales with unusual vintage finds, such as mid-century Lucite armchairs, a soapstone lacquered cabinet and Tole light fixtures with antique globes.
Cowhide rugs, a collection of delft dessert plates and family heirlooms further give character to this home.
The walls and lacquered ceilings are Palladian blue. The textile designs for the drapes, pillows and provincial camelback sofa were hand-illustrated by her daughter, Mary Katherine Folmar, who studied industrial design at Auburn University. She currently resides in Birmingham as the owner and designer of Cotton and Quill.
Traditional holiday decorations and live greenery will be used throughout the house and front porch. On display also will be a tree with Clem’s collection of Christopher Radko ornaments.
Clem is a native of Athens, the daughter of Shirley Christopher Wood and the late Bobby Wood, former mayor of Athens, with roots going back generations through the Christopher and Wood families.
415 East Washington Street, Athens AL
The Johnson House
Home of Jim and Sherry Johnson
Catering by C & A Catering
Directions: North on U.S. 31, east on Forrest Street, left into Holland East, second street to the left.
Jim and Sherry invite you into their home to share the Christmas spirit in memory of the their long-time friend, designer and builder Steve L. Hill. The former owner of Bargain Jungle, as well as an artist and metalwork designer, Hill was a well-known and respected Athens personality.
Hill started working on this 4,700-square-foot home in 2003 and completed it in 2005. His eclectic taste is seen throughout the two-story contemporary brick home with art deco touches and reflects his love and talent for working with wood, metal, stone and oil mediums.
Throughout the home’s exterior and interior, you will see the many artistic details that showcase Steve’s talents, such as ornate door metal bracings and repurposed original wooden doors salvaged from Limestone Drug Store.
The grand staircase built of steel, rebar and inlaid wooden leaf patterns is the center of the house. Other features include a bathroom vanity made out of 2-inch bulletproof glass from a bank in Florence, a screen door on a bathroom and outdoor windows used on the inside of the house. The property also includes a pool and pool house with kitchen and loft bedroom. The Johnsons purchased this wonderful house in 2016 after Hill’s death.
Holiday decorations will showcase the talents of owner Sherry Johnson and include a Christmas tree and reindeer on the front porch, a memory tree honoring loved ones who are no longer with us and other theme trees showcasing Sherry’s years of collecting. Christmas ornaments and other collectibles from Waterford, Fitz and Floyd, Lenox and Biltmore will also be on display. Both floors will be open for the tour.
1687 Autumn Chase, Athens, AL
Little Pink House
Farm House and Event Rental and Southern Produce Market
Owners: Quentin and Tracy Smith
Catering by Athens Ladies Civitan Club
Directions: From U.S. 31 north, turn east on Forrest Street and continue through the roundabout on Nick Davis Road, then 4 miles on the left.
Quentin Smith had always wanted a business of his own and when he saw the property for sale — a farmhouse, garage, barns and small henhouse — he immediately envisioned it as a bed and breakfast and pitched the idea to his wife, Tracy.
As he looked it over with her, John Mellencamp’s song “Pink Houses” came to mind and thus the name was born.
Opening a year ago as a farmhouse and event rental, instead of a bed and breakfast, Tracy said the response has been phenomenal with guests from many states. The house can be rented for a single night or longer.
Built in the 1930s, the modest house has two bedrooms, a bath, living room, combined kitchen and dining area featuring a farmhouse table built by Tracy’s father and a full basement and storm shelter. Part of the pine floors are original to the house, as are the pine ceilings, which they discovered when tearing down ceiling tiles. One bedroom currently has the ceiling exposed.
The Smiths built a small produce market next door, where they sell only Alabama-made home products and farm products made in the south. Quentin works full-time as an information technology director, and they own and manage Little Pink Houses together. The farmhouse and market will be open for the tour. Traditional holiday decorations will be used.
25475 Nick Davis Road, Athens AL
The Warten House
Owner: David Gregory
Catering by Sweet Thymes
Directions: From U.S. 72 west, turn north on Jefferson Street. The house is on the left just past the town square.
Henry Warten came to Athens from his native Germany in the 1870s. As a cotton broker and financier, he became the wealthiest man in Limestone County at the time.
He started construction of this magnificent 6,000-square-foot, three-story Georgian Mansion in 1898 with construction being completed in early 1902. Warten died in 1914, but his family continued to own the home for 50-plus years.
In the 1930s, it was the Jefferson Hotel. In the early 1950s, it was a boarding house, and until the 1970s, it was rented or owned by different families from Athens.
In 1974, Jimmy and Kitty Greenhaw purchased the home. It was fortunate that the Greenhaw family was in the furniture business, for it took a lot to furnish the 16-room, four-bath home with full basement and ballroom on the third floor.
Upon their deaths, the house was passed on to their two children, Lanier and Laura Leigh, who put it on the market to sell.
David Gregory, who grew up in Athens, purchased the house in May for the purpose of converting it into a southern historical bed and breakfast. Future plans include a full restaurant and lounge.
Since David has a full-time job, he convinced his sister, Janet Wilson, an artist and photographer, to move back home from Mobile to oversee the renovations and to help manage the property. She is loving it.
“Now, if I can just find a house near the river so my husband can use his new boat, everybody will be happy,” she said.
The property is in its first phase of restoration and only the first floor will be decorated for the tour. However, guests may see the second floor in its unfinished state, if they wish.
All of the original light fixtures and furniture remain in the house. The fixtures have been authenticated and two predate the house. The stairwell, eight mantels and decorative fretwork in the entryway are original to the house and were imported from England.
Decorations will be traditional, and Athenians will be glad to hear that the giant Santa and his reindeer will once again appear on the upper balcony as they have for the past 40 years.
121 North Jefferson Street, Athens AL
Corner of North Jefferson Street and West Hobbs Street
The Winn Home
Home of Mary Winn
Catering by Suzanne’s Eatery and Bakery
Directions: East on U.S. 72, across from 306 Barbecue. House is on the left.
Mary Winn’s parents, Charles and Nancy Graham, opened Catfish Cabin in Athens in 1983 and operated it for 28 years until their retirement. Mary graduated from the University of Alabama and lived in New Orleans, where her sons were born, but returned to Athens in 1989 to raise them. She bought the restaurant in 2010 and has operated it for the past seven years.
She moved into her new home in the newly developed Piney Creek subdivision a year ago. The 3450-square-foot home built by Winter Homes has four bedrooms and three baths.
Colors are soft neutrals. The kitchen design is traditional with distressed cabinets, black granite countertops and hardwood floors. The dining room has an oversized picture window, and the den opens to a deck with a swing and view of the back yard with large trees. The home also has a full walk-out basement family room with access to the patio for grilling and family fun.
Holiday decorations can be described as “whimsically elegant” and will feature a 10-foot tree with a collection of ornaments that children made over their childhood years. The entire house will be open for the tour.
14504 Waterview Lane, Athens AL
Village at Piney Creek
The Workman home
Home of Melvin and Vicki Workman
Catering by Honeysuckle Café, Rogersville
Directions: East on U.S. 72, south on Mooresville Road 1.7 miles to Carriage Park, left on Elmhurst, house is on the left.
This 8-year-old, 4,000-square-foot home is in Carriage Park, a subdivision developed by Melvin and Vicki. This is the last house built by the Workmans before their retirement and is a culmination of features they used over the 30-plus years of building custom-designed houses in Limestone County.
Those features are seen throughout the house, from the barrel-shaped ceiling in the foyer and the elaborate wood trim work throughout the house to the 6-foot, granite-topped, custom-built island and custom-built black cabinets in the kitchen.
The master bathroom would rival any luxury spa with its oversized tub, steps leading up to it and plush towels on display. Guests will also want to see the laundry room with its happy red and black decor. Massive contemporary furnishings, mostly from Town House Gallery and Restoration Hardware, further give the house a feeling of luxury.
The large back porch is an extension of the living area, with seating for a large number of guests and a fire pit to keep them warm. The driveway extends into the backyard, past the three-car garage and workshop, to a second entrance that is gated.
The Workmans and their son, Daniel, built most of the homes in Carriage Park, one of the finest developments in Athens. Holiday decorations will be traditional. The first floor and back porch will be open to guests.
12584 Elmhurst Drive, Athens AL
Carriage Park Subdivision
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