A walkable Candlelight Tour

Published 9:46 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016

One of the main keys to the long-term success of Suffolk’s core business district will be for it to become a destination for shoppers, a place that is considered a walkable downtown.

The Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society is doing its part this year to help encourage that perception with the 40th-anniversary installment of its popular Candlelight Tour, which takes place this weekend.

The tour this year is a bit of a departure from previous installments in that it will include a number of businesses and churches in the downtown area, along with a couple of iconic homes, all decked out in their Christmas finery.

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“This year, we’re really focusing on businesses, churches and houses around Main Street,” said Sandra Councill, president of the historical society. “I’m thrilled, because you can park your car one time and do the whole tour. It’s a very walkable tour.”

Buildings on the tour include:

  • Prentis House, 321 N. Main St. — One of the oldest homes in Suffolk, it formerly served as the Suffolk Visitor Center.
  • Old Post Office, 200 N. Main St. — Built in the American Renaissance style, it now serves as the PretlowJackson law office.
  • Suffolk Christian Church, 216 N. Main St. — The church was founded in 1870, and the current structure was built in 1894.
  • Van Valkenburg House, 220 N. Main St. — This typical 19th-century clapboard house has been moved about 80 feet north from where it was built. It now is an Edward Jones office.
  • Truitt House, 204 Bank St. — This mansion has three floors with a ballroom, orchestra pit and a floating spiral stairway. It is being restored as a bed and breakfast by owner Ruth Baker.
  • Beatty House, 214 Pinner St. — John Thornton Withers, great-grandson of Mills and Mary Taylor Riddick, built this home in 1910 with his wife, Phoebe Jones.
  • Riddick’s Folly House Museum, 510 N. Main St. — Mills and Mary Taylor Riddick build Riddick’s Folly in 1837. It has four completely furnished floors, 21 rooms and 16 fireplaces. It served as General Peck’s headquarters during the Civil War and now houses multiple historical exhibits about the Riddicks and their contemporaries.
  • Phillips-Dawson House, 137 Bank St. — The home was built in 1889 and later became home to Dr. and Mrs. Dawson. Their son, Gerard, gave it to the historical society.
  • Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, 213 N. Main St. — The fifth building of the church, the present-day 1895 Gothic-style church is filled with relics from the past.
  • Main Street United Methodist Church, 202 N. Main St. — The church was founded in 1801. The current building recently celebrated its 100th birthday.
  • First Baptist Church, 237 N. Main St. — The church was organized in 1827, and the congregation has been meeting at the current location since 1836.
  • Trinity Christian Church, 128 Franklin St. — This church was originally the Presbyterian church, until the congregation left for another site in 1967.
  • Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, 326 N. Main St. — The station was built in 1885 and has been basically unchanged over the years. It is owned and operated by the historical society and includes a model train spanning two rooms, depicting Suffolk in 1907.

The tour will take place Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased at the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum or the Suffolk Visitor Center. Tickets are $25 on the day of the tour and can be purchased only at the Dawson House that day.

Call 539-2781 for more information.