The 31st annual Candlelight Tour of Homes kicks off Saturday, Dec. 8, but the name is somewhat of a misnomer.
Although several homes fill the tour, about half of the buildings available for viewing are other types of venues. Of the 10 stops on the tour, two are churches — Prince Memorial CME Church and Millsap Methodist Church — two are tourist stops — the Doss Heritage and Culture Center and Chandor Gardens — and one is a business — the Franco-Texan Land Co. Building.
However, all offer a great look at the history of Parker County, said Parker County Heritage Society President Jonelle Bartoli.
Aside from her church, Prince Memorial CME, Bartoli said she is most excited that the Franco-Texan building is on the tour.
“It has quite a long, interesting history,” Bartoli said. “Recently refurbished by (Weatherford resident) Bob Glenn, it’s another building that has been saved and is in use today.”
That in itself describes the goal that the heritage society had when it first started the tours back in 1981. The society wanted to encourage and promote the preservation of sites and documents which record and celebrate the heritage of Parker County, according to the history of the society.
Proceeds from the tour go to a variety of community projects that promote that goal. This year, as in previous years, the money from the tour will also help with the upkeep of Old City Greenwood Cemetery, Bartoli said.
The tour is a come-and-go event from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Docents will be available at each of the locations to give those on the tour some additional information about each home or building, Bartoli said.
“You can go to as many as you want for as long as you want,” Bartoli said, noting that visitors need not see every building on the tour.
The tour has been in the planning stages for about a year as it requires the coordination of homeowner/building owner agreements and docent training, she said.
“It’s quite a task,” Bartoli said.
However, the result is that the Candlelight Tour of Homes is one of the largest tours of homes in the Metroplex.
With a variety of venues, it makes the tour even more interesting, said Bartoli, who thanked the Millsap Heritage Society for helping get the log cabins ready for the tour.
“I hope everyone comes out and spends a few hours with us,” Bartoli said. “It’ll raise your holiday spirit.”
• Franco-Texan Land Co. Building
118 Houston St.
Constructed about 1880, the building’s history includes its use as the office for the Franco-Texan Land Company in 1884. An upstairs back room was purchased for $250 by Samuel W.T. Lanham, an attorney who became the governor of Texas. When it was used as the Western Union Telegraph Office, election results were announced from the building. This brick structure, with outside cast iron stairways and a lambrequin tin front entrance canopy, was used for storage by a local funeral home for many years. A 2011 renovation has given renewed life to this unpretentious historical landmark.
• Prince Memorial CME Church
410 W. Church St.
Prince Memorial Christian Methodist Church celebrated its 158th anniversary in April of 2012. The present church building, constructed after a 1912 storm, is a white clapboard edifice featuring an original bell tower, arched “cathedral windows” and steeply pitched gables. Prince Memorial is the oldest church building standing in Weatherford, and is the second oldest in Parker County.
• Fant Home
316 S. Lamar St.
Weatherford banker W.S. Fant built this Greek Revival-style house in 1890, attempting to duplicate the architectural style found in his native state of South Carolina. In January of 2008, the house was severely damaged by a catastrophic fire. During restoration, special attention was given to the balanced columns on the raised front porch on the East and South ends, to the original 12-foot beaded ceilings, the wainscoting and the hardwood floors.
• Chandor Gardens
711 W. Lee St.
Portrait artist Douglas Chandor and his wife Ina Kuteman created a lovely home and a unique site that blends the elegance of an English garden with the serenity of a Chinese garden. The home is surrounded by an English bowling lawn, a triple-tiered fountain, a mountain grotto and playful dragons dancing on a marble-encrusted pedestal.
• Baker-Martin Home
414 W. Lee St.
Built by J.D. Baker in 1893, the home was purchased in the early 1900s by attorney Preston Martin and his wife Juanita, who taught violin at Weatherford College. Their daughter Geraldine enjoyed the stables and the orchard located near the home. The second story features a large sun porch over a porte cache. A second daughter, internationally acclaimed actress Mary, joined the family in 1913. The family later moved to 314 W. Oak St.
• Bragg-Bulls Home
409 S. Alamo St.
Local realtor Jim Bragg Bulls commissioned the design and construction of this California ranch-style home in 1957. The architect who designed the home also completed designs for actor John Wayne. This asymmetrical rectangular home exhibits a long, low profile with large windows, a hip roof and overhanging eaves. Each room of the home takes the visitor to a different time period or a different part of the world.
• Campbell Home
201 W. Rentz St.
This house was built in 1902 by hardware merchant Mr. Carter. Local physician Dr. William M. Campbell Ida purchased the home during World War I and lived in the house until the doctor’s death in 1958. The beautiful home features tin ceilings, wainscoting, period lighting and elegant casework around doorway windows.
• Doss Heritage and Culture Center
1400 Texas Dr.
The Doss Center is a Texas history museum, which showcases permanent and traveling exhibits in spacious state-of-the-art spaces. A large room off the main foyer adapts easily to small concerts, family gatherings, business meetings and conferences. Visit the Candlelight Gift Market on Dec. 8 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. for special gift selections.
• Millsap Log Cabins
204-208 Fannin St., Millsap
Two log cabins were moved from west of Millsap into the town in the early 1900s. Donated by Dr. A.T. Koonce, the 1852 cabin was once the home of the town’s namesake, Fuller Millsaps. Originally located on Rock Creel, it was used as a relay station on the stagecoach route from Weatherford to Palo Pinto. An 1877 single-room cabin housed the Benjamin M. Porter family as well as Millsap’s first post office. For the transfer into town, each log was numbered, removed and then reassembled at its new location. Donated by the Brewster family, the cabin is furnished with antique postal equipment.
• Millsap Methodist Church
402 S. Lamar St., Millsap
In 1875, Mr. G. M. Dodge donated Millsap City Block 40 to the trustees of the Millsap Methodist Episcopal Church. The current cross-shaped structure erected in 1924 was in need of extensive repairs by the 1890s. Funds were raised for the installation of vibrant stained-glass windows, which depict the twelve disciples encircling the official flame-and-cross logo of the methodist church.