After missing a year, the St. Marys Christmas Tour of Homes is back on this year, offering visitors a nighttime look at homes, some historic churches and inns with some treats along the way.
Although Hurricane Irma pretty much took a lot of the cheer out of downtown in 2017, St. Marys was ablaze with lights and the tour went on that year. But a lot of streets and walkways were torn up for repairs last year and with the starting point, historic Orange Hall, under renovation, the Christmas of 2018 passed without a tour. St. Marys Street along the waterfront is almost completely open again, and a lot of the facilities there are nearly finished making travel in the area easy again.
Orange Hall is still closed, but there’s still plenty to see, organizers said.
Angela Wigger, director of the St. Marys Convention and Visitors Bureau, recruited a half dozen residents to decorate and open their doors for this year’s tour.
Added to that are refreshments and entertainment at the Spencer House Inn, Goodbread House Inn, Riverside Hotel and First Presbyterian Church.
The tour is always a mixture of historic and more recently built homes.
Mary Neff, owner of Spencer, said she’s glad to see it back and praised the selection of tour homes.
“It’s always a good, eclectic mixture,’’ she said.
She and her husband, Mike, have owned the inn for nearly 25 years and have been supportive of downtown events.
They let visitors tour the rooms that are all decorated usually over a two-day period by the Neffs and the inn staff. Tour participants are invited to sit down in the dining room for some snacks and hot or cold drinks.
“We’re going to have our pumpkin bread, a delicious cheese ball, toffee, chocolate coffee, iced tea, and of course, fudge,’’ she said.
This year, the 1870 John Rudolph house is on the tour as is the 1801 Archibald house, which has a new owner since it was last on the tour, Wigger said.
Also, Deb Cottle is opening the second floor loft above Cottle & Gunns.
“The main reason I did the tour is that people always wondered what my house looked like,’’ she said.
It looks a lot like her store, where she sells vintage items including furniture and fixtures. The old ornaments hanging on two trees in her sales area are like the ones that will adorn the three big trees she’ll decorate upstairs, she said.
“I’m vintage,’’ she said.
There are also a couple of other homes in the historic district.
First Presbyterian Church will again display more than 100 nativity scenes collected from around the world in its sanctuary and fellowship hall. St. Marys United Methodist Church will open its is 1856 chapel and St. Marys Catholic Chapel and St. Marys Episcopal will be open. A hand bell choir will play at St. Marys Baptist Church at intervals through the evening.
St. Marys Christmas Tour will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m Dec. 14. Tickets are $15 in advance and $10 on the day of the tour. Advance tickets are available at the St. Marys Welcome Cener and Cottle & Gunn with payment by check or cash. Cottle & Gunn will also have tickets on the day of and during the event, while tickets sales will end at the welcome center at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on the tour and other events call 912-882-4000 or consult the website visitstmarys.com.