Classical music will accent historic home tour

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 28, 2004

The late Madame Yvonne Dawson will probably be smiling down on Suffolk next weekend, as strains of classical music once again swell through her historic Bank Street home.

Dawson, a French concert pianist during the 1920s who later taught piano to generations of

local residents, lived in what is now the new home of the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society. She and her husband, Dr. Challis Dawson, moved from New York to Suffolk in 1931, where they raised one son, Gerard Dawson.

Email newsletter signup

Last year, Gerard Dawson willed the family home, the Phillips-Dawson House, 137 Bank St., to the historical society. Next weekend, the home will be the highlight of the organization’s 28th Annual Candlelight Tour.

The tour, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m. Dec. 4-5,

will feature three additional historic homes in the Old Town community.

Mary Margaret Jones of Suffolk, a principal harpist who has performed with numerous orchestras throughout the eastern United States, began studying music with Dawson as a child in the 1960s.

Jones, now writing a biography on the life of her father, the former Judge William W. Jones Sr., will be playing her harp in the same music room where she spent years studying with Dawson.

No doubt, Dawson would be happy to hear music resounding through her home again.

&uot;I feel her presence quite a bit when I am performing,&uot; said Jones. &uot;Everything she ever taught me seems to have grown within me over the years.

&uot;She was a saint and an angel,…who reached the highest pinnacle that a human being could reach through her art.,&uot; she said. &uot;When she played music, the music came to life.&uot;

Jones – as well as other historical society volunteers – are hoping the tour through the four Old Town homes this weekend will be both entertaining and educating for participants.

&uot;We feel like there are all kinds of good things about the history of Suffolk,&uot; said Sue Woodward, the organization’s executive director. &uot;We try to make the tours educational and interesting.&uot;

Featured homes in this year’s tour include:

-The Phillips-Dawson house, 137 Bank St.

Originally a smaller house that fronted on Franklin Street, the Phillips-Dawson House was built in 1881.

Several additions were made to the French Second Empire house between 1889 and the 1920s, with the main entrance eventually moved to Bank Street. In 1940, Dr. and Mrs. Challis Dawson bought the house.

-The Widow Snyder House, 212 Bank St.

A modest Italianate house was the exception to the rule of fine homes on Bank Street, according to the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society. Built in 1880, the home has had numerous owners and residents throughout its history.

According to an oral history about the house

recorded several decades ago,

&uot;the widow Snyder and her daughter, who did lovely handiwork,&uot; lived in the house at the turn of the century. The Snyder family owned the property from 1885 to 1919.

The house has recently been refurbished and is for sale by its current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Allyn Brown.

-The Jones-Carmine House, 302 Bank St.

The house was built by Will Jones, a cashier at the Farmers Bank of Nansemond, and his wife, Sally, around 1880. Jones and several neighbors, including Col. E.E. Holland and Col. John Copeland, were involved in the Farmers Bank and several other successful businesses interests.

Mr. and Mrs. Lance Carmine recently purchased the home.

nThe Pinner-Faircloth House, 227 Pinner St.

Col. John Beauregard Pinner built the Tudor Revival Style home in 1926, which served as home to three generations of Pinners over the years. The house was rented in the 1970s, after the Pinner family moved to Nansemond County.

Current owners, Mr. and Mrs. John Faircloth, purchased the house in the 1983.

The house has a collection of 19th-century furniture, paintings and accessories displayed in rooms.

The four houses will feature special holiday attractions, including:

-Tablescapes, which are tables that have been set with fine china and fresh greenery for the holidays. The exhibit will be at the Dawson House.

-The Sugar Plum Kitchen – Delicious homemade pies, cakes, cookies and candy, also at the Dawson house.

-Tag sale, at both the Jones-Carmine and Dawson houses.

-Trees of the City, in which several trees will be decorated by non-profit organizations, including the Suffolk Art League, Obici Hospital Gift Shop and historical society. The ornaments will be sold during the tour.

-A doll house display at the Widow Snyder House.

Advance tickets are $12. Tickets on the day of the event are $15.

Tickets are being sold Seaboard Train Station and Railroad Museum, the Prentis House Visitors Center, Riddick’s Folly and, during the tour, at the Dawson House.