Take the Prentis House home for the holidays this year

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 1, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

For the Suffolk Women’s Club, the sale of Christmas ornaments continues to have a far-reaching impact throughout the local community and internationally

This holiday season, the organization is debuting its Prentis House ornament. For the past eight years, the civic club has produced and sold brass replicas of historic Suffolk

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landmarks to raise money for charitable projects.

Some of these causes include the Alzheimer’s Foundation, American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation, Meals on Wheels and the Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad. Also, the Suffolk Women’s Club has been able to sponsor an Operation Smile child.

Melva West, club president, just returned from a three-week stay in Kenya, Africa, where she volunteered with a team that played a role in forever changing the plight of the organization’s sponsored child.

It’s because of efforts like this that West and other club members devote so much energy into the club’s annual ornament sales.

West considers this year’s venture &uot;the biggest ever,&uot; adding that the Prentis House brass ornament &uot;will undoubtedly become a collector’s favorite.&uot; Once a downtown eyesore facing demolition, the refurbished structure is now home to the Suffolk Visitor Center and Tourism Department.

The historic Prentis House, one of the oldest standing homes in Suffolk, was purchased by Peter Bowdon Prentis from Dr. John Thompson Kilby on December 21, 1857. When the Union Army occupied Suffolk during the Civil War, Prentis, then clerk of the Nansemond County Court, was arrested with other prominent citizens and held hostage.

With the city focusing more funding and attention to downtown revitalization and tourism, the ornament becomes an extension of Suffolk’s rich history, which local officials are eager to promote.

This has turned the ornament sale into a worthwhile partnership with the city’s tourism division and local merchants.

&uot;Many merchants help us and it’s been great having the city working with us.&uot;

Already, more than $1,000 was generated during Peanut Fest in October when the ornament was first unveiled to the public. West anticipates raising more than $12,000, which covers their annual budget.

The collectable ornaments can be purchased for $10 each, including tax, at locations including the Suffolk Visitor Center, Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, Riddick’s Folly House Museum, Main Street Antiques, Bunny’s Restaurant and Bradshaw’s Picture Frame Shop. Custom framing is available for an additional fee.

&uot;It makes a beautiful picture. It’s a wonderful way to portray the city’s history in your home,&uot; said West.

For more information, call 923-3880.