Murfreesboro ‘decks the halls’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2003

MURFREESBORO – The beginning of the week marked the 18th year the Historic Association of Murfreesboro, together with its co-sponsors, held the infamous Candlelight Christmas Tour.

The tours were held Monday and Tuesday evening from 4-8:30 p.m. for a cost of $25 per adult and $7 per child and spoiled partakers of the event with elegance, elaborate Christmas decorations and entertainment.

The tour was broken down into stations corresponding with the theme of the 12 days of Christmas, gave natives a brief jaunt down memory lane and guided meandering visitors through a real life history book.

With pathways lit by a myriad of torch-like candles, visitors moved from Partridge in a Pear Tree at the beautifully decorated Roberts-Vaughn House, which houses the Historic Association and the Chamber of Commerce, to subsequent stations like carolers in the days of old.

Painted signs marked the way with an itinerary that doubled as a hand held map as patrons took a step back in time to Chowan College campus, which closed for approximately four years during the civil war due to a lack of students, later re-opening to become the renowned landmark of pride to residents of Murfreesboro.

From unique trinkets at the gift shop to peanut farming and the Gatling Aeroplane of 1873 at the Transportation and Agricultural Building, patrons could hear songs of the Christmas as the handbell choir of Conway Baptist Church resonated the sounds of the season.

Following the candlelit path to the William Rea Museum, visitors enjoyed a tasty seafood bisque as they creaked across the old hardwood floors, taking in the exhibits of the old Gatling Gun, decommissioned cotton gins and Indian arrowheads.

Upon reaching Evans Tinsmith Shop, appropriately named the station hosting the ‘five golden rings,’ bluegrass musicians brought life to a small symphony of stringed instruments as light danced on their faces from the crackling fire burning in the old hearth.

Visitors proceeded through the Vincent-Deale Blacksmith Shop, the old Country Store and formal garden and ended up in the house of John-Wheeler for a demonstration of old time cooking in the oversized fireplace in the kitchen opposite the intricate formal dining room separated by a long back porch called ‘whistler’s walk,’ named as such for days when slaves or servants would have to bring food from the kitchen to the dining area by whistling to prove they weren’t eating anything off the plates.

The night wouldn’t be complete without an old-fashioned carriage ride through the town pulled by a pair of horses to the town community building, known as the old Murfree Center, for a time of fabulous food and fellowship and followed by an elaborate spread of dessert accompanied by live piano, clarinet and group song in the grand dining room of the Hertford Academy for the Arts.

&uot;The preparation for this event takes about a year,&uot; said Dale Neighbors of Murfreesboro Historical Association. &uot;There were about 100 volunteers involved in the undertaking of this tour. They have participated in various aspects of the event from cooking and serving food to making the wreaths and helping with decorations. It’s great to be able to provide a fun way for the town to keep its history alive while getting people involved. It’s a big effort, but everyone pulls together and we all have a good time.&uot;

The Candlelight Christmas Tour generates one-third of the Historic Association’s operating budget for the year.