Homes on display

Published 11:02 pm Friday, November 18, 2011

This year’s candlelight tour is a celebration of the history of downtown Suffolk, featuring buildings scattered along and just off of Main Street.

The tour will take guests to 11 buildings, all within a mile of each other, that are from different time periods, including pre-Civil War, the late 1800s and the 1920s and even one from the new millennium.

This will be the 35th year the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society has held the tour, which is the group’s main fundraiser for the year.

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“You can learn these things you might not have known before, so you can enjoy your town a little more,” said Sue Woodward, a volunteer with the Historical Society.

The tour takes place Dec. 3 and 4 from 3 to 7 p.m. each day. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12.

This year’s candlelight tour will feature Riddick’s Folly, the Obici Healthcare Foundation building, the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, three homes in College Court and the Phillips-Dawson house.

Four Main Street churches — Main Street United Methodist, First Baptist, St. Paul’s Episcopal and Suffolk Christian — also will open their doors to guests from 3 to 5 p.m. each day.

Woodward said the group started the tour to help people appreciate the history in Suffolk.

“It seemed to me the Historical Society ought to highlight its history by opening houses and maybe we could raise a little money,” she said.

The first tour featured two homes downtown.

Woodward said one of her friends told her, “I didn’t know we had this in Suffolk,” and his words resounded with her.

“I thought that’s a good reason to keep doing it,” Woodward said.

One of the highlights of this year’s tour will be the Phillips-Dawson house, which will have a variety of antique toys on display in the house, including a fully restored dollhouse from the 1890s.

The dollhouse belonged to a girl who lived in Suffolk on Bank Street.

Woodward joked it’s her favorite house on the tour, because it has such intricate details and great craftsmanship.

In addition to the toys on display, there also will be antique toys for sale at the house.

Also in the Phillips-Dawson House, the Historical Society will have its Sugarplum Kitchen, where guests can pick up home-baked goods.

“It’s the perfect thing to pick up if you are looking for Christmas presents for your neighbors or family,” said Kate Cross, a Historical Society board member.

Of the featured buildings, the Obici Healthcare Foundation building is by far the newest, as it was built just last year.

The building was designed to mimic the style of a Victorian home that used to sit on the property, and it features art and furniture from Amedeo Obici.

“It’s not usually open to the public, so it’s a great chance for people to see the artwork,” Cross said. “It’s a pretty impressive art collection, and it’s a beautiful house.”

In keeping with the theme, other downtown businesses are taking part in the candlelight tour.

Cross said many of the restaurants will be open for special hours and offer special discounts during the two days.

Tickets for the tour are available at Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, the Suffolk Tourism office and A. Dodson’s on Bridge Road.

For more information on the tour, contact the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society at 539-2781.