Chuckatuck tour this weekend

Published 10:59 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Eure home is one of the five homes open to the public during the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society’s 34th annual Candlelight Tour. The tour is this Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. each day.

The 34th annual Candlelight Tour is coming this weekend, and the Chuckatuck community is preparing to welcome hundreds of guests Saturday and Sunday.

The tour, sponsored by the Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society, is moving outside of the downtown area for the first time in several years.

“We’ve been doing downtown neighborhoods for quite some time,” said Sue Woodward, a board member of the society. “It used to be that one year we’d be downtown and one year we’d be out in the old county. It’s harder to do it out in the county away from downtown because of parking and streetlights and things like that.”

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In addition to downtown neighborhoods, the tour has been conducted in the Whaleyville, Driver, Holland, Somerton, Everets, Crittenden and Eclipse areas. This is the tour’s third appearance in Chuckatuck since its inception.

The unifying themes in this tour are the Chuckatuck Creek and the childhood residence of Sallie Corbell Pickett. Sallie Corbell grew up on Cedar Vale farm, now known as the Cotten Farm.

During the Civil War, the teenaged Sallie met Gen. George Pickett, a widower in his 30s. During the Siege of Suffolk in 1863, Pickett began to court Sallie, sneaking through enemy lines to see her.

The old Corbell farmhouse is not open during the tour, but ticket holders can visit two new homes built on the property, as well as the home where her mother grew up.

Shelley and Joseph Barlow Jr. own one of the homes that will be open this weekend. The property has been a working farm since the 1700s.

“The farm looks very much like it did 200 years ago,” Shelley Barlow said. “It’s a great representation of a country home of that era. There’s not a lot of them left.”

The Barlows have taken the tour as motivation to finish renovations that have been needed for 10 years, she said.

“That’s been great incentive for us to get the things done,” she said. “It’s a little overwhelming.”

Barlow sees the Chuckatuck Creek as significant, because it once was a major part of the travel and commerce of the area.

“It used to be a really significant part of this economy and this community,” she said. “It was a way that people traveled.”

One particular family that used to live in the Barlows’ home now is buried at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“We feel certain that some Sundays they went by boat and some Sundays they probably went by carriage,” Barlow said. “They used the water just as much as they used the land to get from one place to another.”

Because it is in the country, Woodward said, buses will carry tourists along the route, beginning at Oakland Christian Church. People also are welcome to arrive at the homes by car, but still are encouraged to stop at the church to enjoy Christmas music, shop at the Sugar Plum Kitchen, view a Chuckatuck history display and pick up maps of the homes’ locations.

“That will sort of help people get their feet on the ground,” Woodward said. “There are a lot of people in Suffolk who are new to the community who just don’t know their way around.”

Tickets for the tour are $18. Well-behaved children under 12 are admitted free with parents. No spike heels, strollers, pets or cameras will be permitted. For more information, call 539-2781. The homes are located at the following addresses:

• The Phillips Farm/the Bickham Home — 6353 Godwin Blvd.

• Cotten Plains Farm/The Barlow Home — 696 Cherry Grove Road North

• The Eure Home — 1882 Cherry Grove Road North

• The Cherry Home — 1833 Cotton Farm Lane

• The Harris Home — 1725 Cotton Farm Lane