By now you’ve heard about Historic Fincastle’s annual holiday home tour, coming on Dec. 8. So just to tempt you to set aside that day for Christmas dazzle and shopping, here’s a little preview.
One of the homes on the tour has a portion that dates back to 1795, “at least as far as we’ve been able to trace,” said owner Judy Race. She and her husband Dr. Donald Race now live in a place that a few years ago was barely livable by modern standards. The former owner did extensive renovation and “took it back to its original intention, that of a farmhouse.” She understands also that there may have been shackles in the place at some time, possibly used to hold prisoners for the county.
The house started as a log structure then covered with board, as were the additions. A stone wall and brick chimney, part of a huge fireplace, now form part of the kitchen. And there are fireplaces in every room. In addition, you can see the original beams in one roped off corner.
Living in such a building “is not convenient, but a lot of fun. We raised two children with all these stairs and brick floors, a bit of a challenge. This is the farm house of a working farm, we have dogs, chickens, cattle and everything. It’s not pristine.”
But decorating in the style of the old portion of the house is simple. “In the 1800′s they really didn’t do a whole lot, mostly greens from the property.” So she’s using those and one tree with all her grandchildren’s drawings on it.
It takes time and effort to participate in the HFI tour. Why does she do it? “We want to support HFI and share what we have with others.”
Another home to tempt you: the Spigle Home, owned by Wes and Elizabeth Wilmer. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, this house speaks Victorian with its architecture and decorations. But also you can see the Wilmer’s art collection including their black and white wedding photographs.
The Spigle house has literal roots in Botetourt county. Not only did four generations of Spigles live there from 1912 until the 1980′s, but also the builders used lumber from the property surrounding it. Oddly enough, the Wilmers weren’t even house hunting when they saw a photo of the house in a real estate advertisement. One big selling point: “prior owners did a 100 percent upgrade and rehab,” Wesley Wilmer said. “We had lived in Raleigh Court in Roanoke, so we appreciated the old style.”
As the owner of a commercial cleaning service, Wilmer also appreciated the outbuildings. One houses his hens which produce the eggs he sells to fund his 5 year old daughter’s college fund. Also, he’s put in “probably a dozen bird feeders, some are antiquey, old style, around the property. The furnishings in the house generally match the age of the house, as they each have collected antiques. “We have an old spinning wheel, a butter churn and an old sewing machine.” And his wife has some pieces from her great grandmother in Jackson, Mississippi.
The house will sport three Christmas trees in grand Victorian style, and six decorated fireplace mantels. “Everything will be old style Christmas, except for our eggnog, that’s got to be new and fresh,” he quipped.
Along with the house came their appreciation of Botetourt culture. “When we travel, we stay at B and B’s similar to this. We learned from those owners what they do to protect their heritage.”
These are just two of the exciting places on the HFI holiday home tour. Don’t miss it.
– Submitted by Priscilla Richardson