November, 2010

Victorian Christmas Home Tour & Tea

PARKERSBURG – The Julia-Ann Square Historic District will showcase five historic homes during its annual Victorian Christmas Home Tour and Tea on Dec. 4 and 5 in Parkersburg, with most along three blocks of Juliana Street, the first of several such tours scheduled in December throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.

On Dec. 4, the tours will be escorted by guides in period attire, homeowners will share the history of their homes, and guests will attend a lavish Victorian Tea. The cost is $15.

The Tours and Teas will begin at First United Methodist Church at 10th and Juliana streets at 1 and 3 p.m. with a Candlelight Tour at 6 p.m.

On Dec. 5, the tour will be self-guided from 1 to 5 p.m. and there will be no tea. The cost is $10 with children ages 10 and under admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Proceeds will go to improvements to the Historic District. For information and reservations call 304-422-9861 or 304-485-7164. Tickets can be purchased online at

This year’s tour will feature the Dils-Creel House at 1103 Juliana St., the Boreman-Bragg House at 1201 Juliana St., the Governor Stevenson-DeKlavon House at 1040 Juliana St., the Casto-Harris House at 1226 Juliana St. and the Gale-Miller House at 1312 Market St.

The Dils-Creel House, at 1103 Juliana St., was built around 1899 by the Dils family in the Colonial Greek style. It features four Corinthian columns at the entrance and the three-story home features 11 rooms, two staircases, eight fireplaces and a ballroom.

The Boreman-Bragg House at 1201 Juliana St., was purchased by Arthur Boreman, first governor of West Virginia, as a rental property and later was willed to his daughters but he never lived there himself. A copy of the lease signed by Boreman is framed and displayed in the entranceway of the home. The home is decorated for the holiday in Victorian themes.

The Governor Stevenson-DeKlavon House, at 1040 Juliana St., is still undergoing renovations by owners Jim and Julie DeKlavon. The home – once owned by West Virginia’s third governor William E. Stevenson – was on the tour last year in an earlier stage of renovation and the owners had hoped to have it completed but other projects have slowed, but not halted, the process. Visitors will be able to see some of the work that has been done and continues toward the restoration of the historic home.

The Casto-Harris House, at 1226 Juliana St., has 16 Christmas trees decorated throughout the home, with each room decorated in themes from “Santa’s workshop” and Victorian to “angel tree” and “harvest tree.”

The Gale-Miller House, at 1312 Market St., while just outside the boundary of the historic district, follows the same spirit of preserving the spirit of the home, the city of Parkersburg and the past. The home is decorated for the holidays in a mix of themes, primarily Victorian on the first floor, while the kitchen follows a country theme.

Several other holiday home tours are scheduled in Wood and Washington counties in December.

The ReStore Marietta Holiday Loft Tour will be 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 in downtown Marietta.

In Belpre, the Belpre Womens Club Town and Country Holiday Tour of Homes will be 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets are $10 and advance tickets are available at Neff’s Country Loft and Curves of Belpre.

Tickets may also be purchased at each stop on the day of the tour. The tour will include four homes, the Farmers Castle Museum on Ridge Street and the Unicorn Wine Guild in Washington Square Plaza. Refreshments will be available at the museum and the Wine Guild.

On Dec. 12, several local homes will be featured in the 2010 Holly Trail Tour of Homes from 1 to 5 p.m. in Parkersburg and Vienna.

The GFWC Parkersburg Woman’s Club is organizing the tour, which also includes stops at the Parkersburg Womans Club House at 323 Ninth St., the Parkersburg Art Center at 725 Market St. and four residential homes – three in Parkersburg and one in Vienna. Admission is $8 and tickets are available at any of the homes on the day of the tour, from club members and at Hallmark in Grand Central Mall in Vienna.

The homes are: Rammy and Debbie Gold, 43 Wyndemere, Vienna; Tom and Jan Claus-Boulet, 15 Parkview Wey, Parkersburg; Julia Soja, 10 Hamlet Close, Parkersburg; and Randy Durst, 1357 Market St., Parkersburg.

Read more:  Parkersburg News & Sentinel

Category : In The News

Historic Guide to Parkersburg area now available

PARKERSBURG – The new Historic Guide to Wood County is now available to the public.

Ten thousand copies of the 31-page brochure will be in circulation.

“It’s another tool to get visitors to the area,” Steve Nicely, director of the Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitor’s Bureau told Wood County commissioners. Nicely also announced the state Civil War Trails wants to place a second marker at Fort Boreman Hill Historic Park.

“This one would be placed on the other side of the overlook, if the county commission gives permission,” Nicely said.

The commissioners agreed to allow the sign to be posted. There is a $200 annual maintenance fee. The Civil War Trails is a multi-state program that identifies, interprets and creates driving tours of Civil War campaigns and sites including interpretive markers with maps, illustrations and text. Fort Boreman Park is located just off U.S. 50 at the Marrtown Road exit.

“We cannot overstate the importance of historical tourism. It is the number one fastest growing tourism market,” Commissioner Rick Modesitt said.

“Heritage tourism is growing, and, according to market trends those who visit historical sites tend to stay longer, and spend more money,” Nicely said. “We hope to provide this guide as a tool to attract more of these visitors to our area, and we will soon see the kick off of the Civil War sesquicentennial.”

The brochure contains information on the history of Wood County and the city of Parkersburg, history and information on local transportation’s role in the development of statehood, the oil and gas industry history, and the part the area played in the Civil War, as well as lists and photos of historic landmarks and sites in the county.

There are also photos and information on homes in the Julia-Ann Square Historic District, as well as histories and information on Belleville, Bickel Mansion, Blennerhassett Island Historic Park, Avery Street Historic District, Fenton Glass, Fort Boreman Park, Henderson Hall, Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum, Neal Station, James Stephenson’s House, Parkersburg City Park, Phelps-Tavenner House, Sumnerite African-American History Museum, Tillinghast Cook House, Tomlinson House, Washington Avenue District, and the Veteran’s Museum.

There is also a listing of area historic cemeteries.

For more information, contact the CVB at 350 Seventh Street, 304-428-1130, or go to the bureau’s website at:

Read more:   Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Category : In The News

Restored carriage house attracts attention

PARKERSBURG – A restored carriage house behind the former Harnett House Bed and Breakfast has been the center of attention this year in the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.

Homeowners Norm and Judy Smith worked the last two years to restore the original carriage house behind their home at 1024 Juliana St., which is showcased during the Victorian Christmas Homes Tour and the Garden Tour in the summer.

“We wanted to keep the integrity and the look of the original property,” said Judy Smith. “Before we worked on it, the carriage house was literally falling down around us.”

Before construction could begin, the plans were approved by the Architectural Review Board. The carriage house now stores the couple’s antique cars and a 1907 Babcock Surrey horse-drawn carriage.

Built in 1885, the Smiths’ home was originally owned by William Caswell, a lumber baron and founding member of the West Virginia Republican Party. The couple purchased the five-story Victorian house three years ago and began working on several construction projects, including an elevator installed last year.

“The impetus for the carriage house was the fact that we had nowhere to put our vehicles,” said Judy Smith. “The structure had ivy growing all over it, the slate roof was falling down, and the ceiling was crumbling. Basically it was unsafe.”

Two years ago, the Smiths collaborated with friend and neighbor Fred Guerriere to restore the carriage house and add on an extra 1,000 feet for use as a garage.

“We basically came up with the design plans, and our friend restored the space,” said Norm Smith. “We tried to incorporate some historic details and design.”

The red-brick carriage house now has a new shingled roof, ceiling, cupola, stairs and weathervane, as well as a completely refurbished interior.

Gold crown molding and stenciled design along the ceiling mimic the house’s Victorian style. A pressed concrete, cobblestone walkway was installed in the spring, and an extra 1,000 square feet were built on to the original structure to house the Smiths’ antique cars, including a 1929 Roadster.

The original two-story carriage house, connected to the addition, stores the couple’s prized horse-drawn carriage, which was on display for both the Victorian Christmas Homes Tour and the Garden Tour this summer.

“We bought it about a year ago while we were in the process of restoring the carriage house,” said Judy Smith. “Whenever Norm has the doors open, people strolling by like to come up and take a look.”

While the Smiths have not gone as far as buying a horse to pull the carriage, they hope to one day feature it in local parades. For now, a life-sized, 300-pound aluminum horse takes the place of a real horse in front of the carriage.

“We decorated him for the holidays, and we even put wheels on the bottom of his hoofs so we could pull him, along with the carriage. We like to display him out in front of the house for the Garden Tour,” said Judy Smith.

The couple affectionately named him Butterworth – Caswell’s middle name.

“We are really happy with the end result. Everyone seems to love it,” she said. “The house really feels complete now.”

While the Smiths are taking a break this year from the upcoming Victorian Christmas Homes Tour, the home and carriage house are featured in the Garden Tour in June as well as the many historic walking tours through the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.

“For us, almost every day is a tour day. We show it to bus tours, relatives, friends, and really anyone who happens to be walking by. Sharing the house and its history is the reason we love living here,” she said.

Read more:  Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Category : In The News