For 39 years, people from all over North Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas have kicked their holiday season off with The Heritage Guild of Collin County's Holiday Tour of Homes. This year's tour promises to be bigger and better than ever with five homes in McKinney's Historic District, four homes at Chestnut Square and a home in Tucker Hill on McKinney's west side...all decorated for the holidays.
"We have a nice variety of homes for this year's tour." Said Holiday Tour Chairperson and Heritage Guild Board Chair, Pat Rodgers. "Architectural styles of Greek Revival to Dutch Colonial with Arts and Crafts and Victorian in between are all represented on this year's tour."
The Tour will be held Saturday, Dec. 1 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday, Dec. 2 (noon to 5 p.m.).
The first weekend of December has been The Heritage Guild of Collin County Holiday Tour of Homes since 1973. The tradition of opening historic homes for a public tour began in 1973 when The Heritage Guild of Collin County founders first opened their homes to raise money to purchase the Dulaney House and cottage and the grounds that eventually became Chestnut Square Historic Village in McKinney. Since that time, the tour has been a major fundraiser for The Heritage Guild.
"The ladies of The Heritage Guild were committed to saving McKinney's Historic District and created Chestnut Square to continue their preservation efforts. That first year, two of the ladies, Margaret Hughston and Martha Schubert, mortgaged their homes to purchase the Dulaney property." said Cindy Johnson, Heritage Guild Executive Director. "The first twelve years of the Holiday Tour went toward paying those brave ladies back. Since then the tour has raised almost a million dollars to maintain Chestnut Square."
This year's tour will include two "new-old" houses - one in the Historic District and one in the Tucker Hill development in west McKinney. Guy and Anna Dineen's home on Pine St. was recently built from a Southern Living floor plan by Wayne Goodall, also known as "The British Builder". Their home in the Historic District fits in so beautifully that visitors often ask them about the "extensive renovations" that they did to the house.
"We love McKinney and are so proud to be a part of this wonderful community. We have felt from the moment we broke ground that it was our honor and responsibility to bring a beautiful, historically inspired home to this unique community, and we feel that we’ve succeeded." Guy and Anna said. "We are proud to share our home with this wonderful community this year!”
The home in Tucker Hill shares the same historic feel. A team of architects worked with John and Kathy Moore to make their home an "heirloom" with historically authentic exterior columns, brick patterns and interior trim and built-in's. It was important to the Moore's that their home carry forward McKinney's historic charm.
"This sense of history and of time and place reminds us of all that we have to be grateful for and what we have to look forward to." said Kathy Moore.
History lives on in one of the houses on the tour. The "Wysong House" on Church Street tells the story of Dr W.S. Wysong's family. Dr. Wysong, who was the first Texas trained surgeon bought a much needed portable operating table in 1915 and moved his family into this home, operating a clinic and surgery in the home. The tour will feature the history of the family and their contributions to McKinney's history.
The tour also includes a farmhouse Victorian style home, a 1940's cottage and a four-square Arts and Crafts home all in the Historic District.
"We can't begin to thank the homeowners that open their homes up each year to raise money for The Heritage Guild." said Johnson. "We only hope that we pay it forward each year as we preserve and perpetuate the heritage of Collin County. Our strong heritage makes McKinney one of the best places to live in the country!"
This year, four homes at Chestnut Square will also be decorated for the tour - the Dulaney House, Dulaney Cottage, Two Bit Taylor Inn and Faires House. Carolers will stroll the grounds of Chestnut Square providing Christmas cheer and a harpist will play in the Dulaney House. A free cup of syllabub (a traditional English dessert beverage, popular from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century) will be available at the Faires House at Chestnut Square along with the always popular Dutch oven cooking demonstrations in the large open hearth.
"Syllabub has been a home tour tradition for years." said Johnson. "It's made from rich cream seasoned with sugar, cinammin and nutmeg with a bit of sherry added in. Our original recipe says to mix the other ingredients together in a large bowl, and 'place the bowl under the cow, and milk it full', but we quit doing it that way a few home tours ago."
Once again this year, the Chestnut Square Crafters Guild will present a Holiday Bazaar at the Bevel Reception House at Chestnut Square, 405 S. Chestnut St. In addition to the handmade items offered by the Crafters, many Farmers Market vendors will offer their wares at the Bazaar.
"The Crafters Guild has been working away all year to make some of the most unique gifts you'll find for your holiday gift giving," said Kim Ducote, Chestnut Square Dixie's Store manager. "From holiday decor to hand-knit cowls which are all the rage this year, you'll find some great gifts at the Holiday Bazaar."
Tickets for the Holiday Tour of Homes are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.chestnutsquare.org or at the Visitors Center at Chestnut Square. Tickets are also available at The Little Red Hen, The Antique House, Smitten Flea, Uptown and Market Street McKinney. For more information, please call 972-562-8790 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2012 Holiday Tour of Homes is sponsored by Medical Center McKinney and Tucker Hill.