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Candlelight Tour takes a step back in time

By BETTY F. JONES
Correspondent

MURFREESBORO – The 33rd annual Candlelight Christmas Tour was held Dec. 7-8 in Historic Murfreesboro.

Dr. Mary Hellmann and Dr. Christopher Cook treated guests to Christmas music with keyboard and guitar at the Walter Reed House.

Suzanne and Douglas Deets, owners of the Camp – Hill – Gary House, restored their home and showcased it in a prior tour. The Dr. Walter Reed House is their current restoration project. This is a huge undertaking which takes years to complete.

At the Robert – Vaughan House, visitors were invited to view down and upstairs, as well a detached kitchen and other outside buildings. Punch was served by period costumed volunteers along with various cakes and spreads. Smith Sherman played background music.

Chowan University could be viewed by vehicle.

Parking was provided in the Historic District. A short walk connected the remaining sites. A romantic horse and carriage ride was an option anytime. A tram ride was also provided.

The agricultural building housed farming equipment. Volunteers talked and answered questions. A special treat was seafood bisque prepared by John’s Seafood Restaurant.

The Murfree – Smith Law Office contained period furniture, including a revolving bookshelf beside a face to face shared attorneys desk.

The print shop came to life as a Chowan lecturer and students explained and demonstrated the printing process. Each guest was given a special bookmark printed on the press.

The Rea Museum housed a Gatling gun, artifacts and other weaponry. Mr. Minton and Mr. Fowler, volunteers, could answer most any question and imparted all grades of trivia.

The Tin Shop was essential to make and manufacture tin pitchers, cups, roofs, candle holders and tools for everyday living.

Inside the Vincent – Deale Blacksmith Shop, the talented seven member Potecasi Creek String Band played while people enjoyed freshly roasted salted peanuts at the forge. Deale’s great grandson, Hugh Vincent, built the forge.

Vincent learned the craft and taught others. He forged horseshoes and other implements outside. Patrons enjoyed hot apple cider around a toasty fire. One could win a prize by throwing horseshoes.

In the Winborne Store, the proprietor, Hal Thomas, showed folks how to make a milkshake with an antique maker…..shaken not stirred. Debbie Cobb and Susan Darden, sisters, presented each guest with gingerbread cookies in this delightful yesteryear store.

The detached kitchen at the John Wheeler House was a place to warm up and watch hearth cooking, including roast chicken, making ash cake, apple compote and lemon thins.

A catered meal by Hunter Brown was served at the Murfree Center. The delicious plates held pork loin with stuffing, gravy, collards seasoned with country ham, sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows, and rolls. Tea, water and wine rounded out the menu. Noah Smith, playing the piano, set a relaxing mood for the diners.

Hertford Academy was reached by a short stroll across the street after dinner. If this was your last stop, it was the icing on the cake. Various cake slices packed the beautifully decorated dining room table. Coffee or water were offered. When asked about the different cakes, Mary Etta Flowers name was heartily mentioned. She is known locally for her good cakes.

Dr. Chris White (piano) and Frank Harris (clarinet) entertained guests in the parlor. This dynamic duo’s music inspired Christmas caroling by patrons.

Sites were decorated for Christmas both inside and out with traditional and natural fruits, evergreen cuttings and candles. Foods and refreshments were holiday inspired to create a festive atmosphere.

The many sponsors listed at several sites along with the Historical Association and volunteers helped make this event a success.

Visitors from Montana, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Boykins, Capron, and Franklin as well as local neighboring towns and communities attended. Several visitors stated it was their annual tradition to make the trek to Historic Murfreesboro.

Murfreesboro Historical Association President Lemar Van Brackle stated over 400 meals were served. During the two night tour, over 120 volunteers helped. Approximately 250 candles lit the walkways.