The 2014 Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes will feature six private homes, two churches, the Lanier Mansion, the Schofield House, and the JCHS History Center. There will also be three Hospitality Sites with restrooms, where tour goers can stop in for a free refreshment. Hospitality sites include the Attic Coffee Mill Café, Something Simple, and the Seifert Short Folk Art and Doll Museum.
Dates for this year’s tour are November 28 & 29 and December 5 & 6. Hours for the tour are Fridays 5-9 and Saturdays 3-9. Tickets are on sale now at the Visitors Center, 601 W. First St. and online at www.nightsbeforechristmas.com Ticket prices are $12.50 for adults, through Nov. 14 and $15 after. Children’s tickets are $5 for children ages 5-15. Tickets will also be available at Something Simple, Madison Chamber of Commerce and River Valley Bank’s Main Branch on Clifty Dr.
This year’s tour features three homes, never before seen on any previous home tour. The Larkins’ Home on Third St. is an 1837 brick row house. The Beach Home on Second St. is an Italianate brick and was two apartments for many years until the current owner returned the structure to a single family dwelling. The Rogers’ home on Telegraph Hill was once the County Poor Asylum. This home is just three miles from Main and East Streets and well worth the short drive from downtown. The Dwyer residence has not been on a home tour for nearly 30 years and was once the office of Dr. James A. Murat. This turn of the century cottage has had an additional two rooms added and lots of improvements and updates since its days as a doctor’s office. Last featured on the 2008 tour, the Lynch home deserves a second look. The Lynch’s completed a major renovation in the last few years switching the kitchen and dining room locations to make the home more functional for their family. The Stribling-Bladen home is another Italianate home, circa 1840. This home was once owned by a partner in the Cobb, Stribling and Co. Iron Foundry. Over the years this home has been a single family dwelling and a three unit apartment before becoming the home of the Bladen family.
As always, Madison’s “crown jewel”, the Lanier Mansion will be featured as well as the Schofield House and the Jefferson County Historical Society’s History Center, which will display gingerbread houses made by area children. This year, Historic Madison, Inc. will unveil St. Michael the Archangel Church, which has been closed for several years while renovations were completed. The Broadway Baptist Church is another first on the tour and will also be where the holiday music portion of the tour will take place. The founders of this church were instrumental in the local Underground Railroad movement.
Another popular feature of the tour is the Great Cookie Caper! This event is held at the Visitors Center, 601 W. First St. It features a wide selection of homemade cookies and sweet treats. Cookies and treats may be purchased by the box for $6 or $12 or 3 cookies for $1. This will be the 4th year for the Cookie Caper and each year the Christmas tour donates all proceeds to a local charitable organization. This year’s sales will benefit the Jefferson County Animal Shelter. Since its inception, the Cookie Caper in conjunction with “Nights” has raised nearly $3,600.00. Past beneficiaries include Lide White Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity. The hours for the Cookie Caper are 4-8pm on both Fridays and 2-8pm on both Saturdays of the tour.