Tour offers historical view of Bank Street

Published 8:26 pm Friday, November 27, 2009

Visitors to this year’s Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society Candlelight Tour will take a step back in time in the Bank Street area next weekend.

The Candlelight Tour will be held Dec. 5-6 from 3 to 7 p.m. “Encore Days,” new this year, will be Dec. 7-8 from noon to 6 p.m.

The construction of Bank Street began sometime in the 1880s, said historical society president Sue Woodward. Prior to that, the community hadn’t expanded beyond Main Street because of the deep ravines on either side.

The Bank Street community now is made up of numerous historical homes, many of which have had or are currently undergoing renovations. This year’s Candlelight Tour includes four buildings in the area, all in various stages of restoration.

The Dawson House, 137 Bank St., currently functions as the headquarters of the historical society. Parts of the home are furnished, Woodward said.

Next door, the Eley-McKay House, 133 Bank St., also is owned by the historical society. The home has had repairs on the outside, but is totally undone on the inside.

The Crumpler House, at 201 Grace St., has recently undergone a massive renovation. Up the street at 137 Main St., the Montgomery Lofts, the restored Montgomery Ward building, will have a furnished unit open for tour guests.

The tour is a unique one for the society, Woodward said.

“Nobody lives in them,” Woodward said of this year’s offerings. “Usually, we open houses.” This tour also is one of the smallest the society has ever done, Woodward said.

Despite its uniqueness, the tour features old standbys such as the Sugar Plum Kitchen, where baked goods and other munchies will be available for sale; costumed interpreters telling the history of the homes and their owners; tasteful Christmas decorations in the homes; and musicians entertaining the guests. In addition, Christmas ornaments, vintage linens, art, jewelry and more will be available for purchase in the various homes.

Also new this year, a horse-drawn surrey will be available to transport visitors from the courthouse parking lot to the tour houses.

Tickets for the tour are $12 in advance, $15 on tour days. They may be purchased in advance from the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, 326 N. Main St.; Suffolk Visitor Center, 321 N. Main St.; and A. Dodson’s, 2948 Bridge Road.

Encore Days tickets are $5, or free with the full ticket.

“Encore Days are geared at people who work downtown,” Woodward said. The Dawson House only will be open on Encore Days, with music, decorations and refreshments, as well as special jewelry items sold only on tour days.

In addition to the many shopping opportunities in the homes, several downtown stores and restaurants will stay open late and offer special deals for tour ticket holders, Woodward said.

For more information on the Candlelight Tour, call 539-2781.