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» Saturday, December 05, 2015Christmas Pilgrims
The weather report was auspicious; it was going to be chilly to cool today! Last year was a bit of a bust anyway, but I had not attended the Marietta Pilgrimage Christmas Home Tour the year before because it was just too warm to go walking out in the sun. Yesterday I stopped downtown to get my ticket and this morning I was off before James ever left for work to park downtown behind Johnnie McCracken's pub, stroll through Glover Park, check on what was going on at the Farmer's Market, and head to Mill Street to catch the bus to the first house. I left the house with my jacket on, but realized it would be a liability when it got into the 60s later on. So I just left the flannel shirt over my sweatshirt, grabbed my light hat, and stuffed little snacks into my pouch, and I'd stopped at Walgreen's to get a pack of sugarless gum to keep me from getting dry. I hadn't had breakfast, so I munched a BelVita bar on my walk. I also had a 90-calorie brownie, a packet of peanuts, and a packet of crackers with me, which I ate over the morning and held me until I had lunch after two.
The first stop was the Harrison-Heck-Savic House circa 1900, a lovely Victorian with modest gingerbread trimmings. The current owners started restoring it in 2009 and, especially compared to the pictures, where the big verandah is all closed in, it is simply gorgeous. Hardwood floors throughout, a formal parlor in the front and a dining room on the side with the original stained glass window with diamond-shaped panes of colored glass in it. (There is a matching window upstairs which they had made to duplicate the original. From the outside you can't tell the difference.) Upstairs there is a turret porch and a darling bathroom with old-fashioned tiles. The two rooms on the back of the house, a big eat-in kitchen and a den, mold seamlessly with the old house and even have the same beautiful brown crown molding throughout.
This ended being the only house without a line to get in, although there was one by the time we left, and most of the tour was spent in lines.
The next home, Setter's Run, is from 1934, and although it looks like a tiny cottage from the front, it is huge inside, 6,000 square feet. There was quite a wait for this one, and I was entertained by the three ladies behind me who evidently do this every year and who were trying to keep warm. I was a little chilly myself, but knew I'd be happier later on. Anyway, the house is called "Setter's Run" because the owners have always had English setters, and there is a setter plaque on the door and setter heads incised on the window shutters. Inside there all the doorways were arched on the the first floor; you walked through a living room (with a piano that had survived in Europe during World War II!), and a dining room which was once a brick porch. There is a new kitchen; the old one was a galley kitchen and so narrow the table and chairs were foldout benches (the owners had this feature re-installed downstairs in the family room because it was so clever). The hallway to the upper story is filled with family portraits going back to the 1830s, and there is an old butler's pantry that now shows off the owner's mother's china collection.
The next four houses were all in a row on Church Street and there were long lines at each but the last, which had a short line. I was glad I brought my seat cane and my snacks! The Clay-Willingham-Cook house was built in 1914 and originally had a little porch tacked on the side; the porch is now a sun room. The house has all sorts of beautiful items from that era, although it is decorated in a modern/vintage style that somehow went together, much less traditionally than the other homes. It was built by the son of Alexander Stephens Clay, whose statue stands in Glover park, and the next owner was the brother of the woman who founded the Atlanta League of Women Voters.
Number four was a house James and I had seen previously in 2006 (and most of this is my commentary from the last time), the Northcutt-Whitaker-Gillis House from 1915, a big square house with a big front and side porch and a pool house in the back, painted grey with burgundy and hunter green trim.
It is just as lovely inside. The owners have enlarged and restored it. It has front and back stairs, beautiful hardwood floors, enclosed porches, and wonderful decorations. A big glass curio cabinet contains little doll-like figures from Germany. On the wall upstairs after you climb the stairs, 25 years' worth of the children's pictures with Santa are displayed.
The funniest thing was in the remodeled kitchen, which is beautiful without being pretentious. There was a photo on the counter of the kitchen before it was remodeled; the owners had entered the room in a Good Housekeeping "ugliest kitchen in the United States" contest in which the prize was a remodeling and had thought they had won, but they only got a cash prize, which they used to start a remodel. Boy, was it ugly (plus it had an electric stove—ick!); as the docent in 2006 commented, "I'd hate to see the kitchen that won!"
(They did not have the feather tree with the cross-stitched ornaments this time. I was a little sad. The Irish tree they had instead was very pretty, although I was amused to see Merida on the tree. She's Scots, not Irish!)
The penultimate house was the Reece-Wade-Sanstead House, circa 1940, with the obligatory telephone nook, tiny black-and-white tiles in the bathroom, Art Deco furnishings, a little sign on the basement door that warned you not to let the cat out, a compact but actually roomy kitchen. In keeping with the home's Art Deco themes, the tree was white and silver, but one red ornament at the top represented the lady of the house's mother. (Everyone kept saying "awwww" because the woman who owned the house was always leaving little romantic/sentimental touches around the house.) And in addition to all that goodness, there was a spiral staircase leading down from the deck. I loved it!
Finally the last house, the 1924 Hagood-McNabb House. The McNabbs, the current owners, used to own a distillery that is now part of Dewars. The house has a long central corridor with a formal parlor on one side decorated chiefly with Chinoserie, Mrs. McNabb's favorite, and a study on the other side belongs to Mr. McNabb, very masculine, dark furniture and shelves all the way up the tall ceilings, completely crammed with books, with a Christmas tree of his interests, and a big painting of a Scotsman in a kilt over the desk. There were front stairs and back stairs, the latter which led to a completely remodeled kitchen. The upstairs used to be a half story, and was now a full story, with as many vintage parts used as possible; the back stairs are also from the 1920s, but from another house that was torn down, again, all dark beautiful woodwork, with a modern family room at the back decorated with specialty toys.
Very tired and very hungry now, caught the bus back to downtown and had lunch—well, I had an appetizer, really, a plate of potato skins that were absolutely delicious and make me miss those trivia nights at Rockford's all the more.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Museum of History, formerly the Kennesaw House, a hotel. The book sale woman was indeed wrong; there was not a World War I exhibit at all. The changing exhibit this year was of baby boomer toys, and I was happy to see some favorites there: a stuffed Lassie, Whitman books, old board games, a Beany (from Beany and Cecil) figurine, "Highlights" and "Boy's Life," models, paper dolls, etc. (Following is more description from the last visit.) The museum is small and rather a hotchpotch of things, but it was great browsing. Also in this gallery was a collection of music-making instruments, from an old-fashioned hurdy gurdy to a 1950s "hi-fi." The docent played some of these items for us, including the hurdy gurdy, a music box, and the Edison cylinder machine. Off in a corner were some memorabilia taken from the old courthouse, and a model of a 1940s kitchen with all sorts of old brand name items scattered about.
There were two military galleries: one was from the Revolutionary War to modern times, with a collection of pistols and rifles from Mr. Dupre, who used to run a store on the Square (it is now an antiques market). This had small cases devoted to different subjects: the Holocaust, women in the military, etc. The other was a Civil War gallery with relics having been dug up in the area, and of course an exhibit about the Great Locomotive Chase, which was planned right there in the Kennesaw House. Another room is a reproduction of one of the rooms at the Kennesaw House, complete with big heavy bed and furniture and a fireplace.
Finally there was a rather mixed gallery of local interests: memorabilia from businesses around the square, like a beauty shop—this had an original permanent machine, which looked like something to electrocute prisoners—and a fluoroscope like the ones that used to be in shoe stores to look at the bones in your feet), more war memorabilia, printing presses and typecases, an old wringer washer, saws, doctor's equipment, and many other objects. A corner was devoted to the lynching of Leo Frank and another area discussed segregation and Jim Crow. At the very back is a big fold-out Victorian dollhouse, all completely furnished down to the small figures.
The museum closed at four, so I bought a Christmas CD (sequel to the one I bought the last time I was here in 2008), and then, because I'm a total idiot and did not want to go shopping tomorrow morning, stopped at Kroger and got the shopping done. There was no one in line when I got there, but everyone in line when I was ready to check out, and it took people over twenty minutes just to get to a register. I wasn't the only one who was disgusted.
Took Tucker right out when I got home so I could finally rest my feet; had leftovers for supper and mostly listened to Christmas music. James didn't get home until 9:30, just about time for me to take Tucker out again!