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VARIETY SHOW | Peachtree Garden Club's Christmas Home Tour displaying eclectic group of Buckhead houses
By Everett Catts @NeighborEverett
The Peachtree Garden Club’s 12th annual Christmas Home Tour, set for Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., once again will offer a diverse group of four Buckhead houses to view, all decked out in holiday décor.
“I think the variety of homes that are showcased every year” makes it stand out, said Kim Mansfield, who is co-chairing this year’s event with Loulie Reese and Eleanor Adams. “We have a home that was built in the 1920s. We have a home built four years ago. (The tour is) showing different styles of architecture and different periods the houses were built (in).
“The interiors are all going to be very personal to the homeowners, so you’ll see four very different styles of interiors. The Christmas designs are all done to complement and enhance the style that the homeowner wants. … We encourage them to bring out old or new collections of things, family heirlooms, so we can work with those things in the Christmas décor and design. We’re really sharing a little bit of the family history and traditions when we do that.”
The homes on the tour are located on West Paces Ferry, Mount Paran and Vernon roads and Woodward Way. Two of the homes are owned by the club’s members and two are owned by nonmembers. Reese said the tour also stands out because attendees can replicate the décor styles showcased in this tour.
“There are four houses compared to a decorator’s show house, which is just one home,” she said. “While (the show house) showcases area interior designers, our homes are showcasing the creativity of our membership in decorating the home with garland and wreathes and fresh greenery for the holidays. It’s a way people can come and enjoy the tour and replicate what we do. Whereas when you go to these other tours, it’s showcasing incredible work of area designers but is not necessarily realistic for everyone (to replicate).”
Reese said the club spends 11 months preparing for the event, and the tour requires up to 80 of the organization’s 130 members to volunteer in helping decorate the homes.
“The neat thing about that is it spans the ages,” she said. “We have volunteers in their 80s that are just dynamos. ... We have a lot of mothers and daughters and mothers and daughters-in-law (volunteering together).”
Mansfield said some of the tour’s homes mix both the old and the new.
“The home on Mount Paran is only four or five years old and sits on a piece of property where Confederate soldiers camped after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain on the way to the Battle of Peachtree Creek. It’s quite a beautiful piece of property. The home owned by Patty and Gerry Hull (on Vernon) burned down but was restored to the inch of the dimensions of (famed architect) Neel Reid’s design.”
In a news release, Adams said, “The selflessness of these homeowners, in allowing so many people to enter their private retreats, speaks volumes of their kindness.”
The tour started in 1949 and continued until the mid-1960s. It was revived by the club in 2008 and is its only annual fundraiser. All the proceeds go to the Peachtree Garden Club Community Fund, a nonprofit that has doled out more than $550,000 to community organizations since its inception.
The club thanks its sponsors for their generosity in helping make the tour possible, Reese said. Funds raised from the event mainly will go to the club’s Neel Reid Scholarship Fund at the School of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia, but will also go to other local nonprofits.
“We give eight to 10 scholarships each year,” Reese said. “Without this scholarship, (the students) would not be able to stay in the program they’re in.”
Each year the club selects for the tour an honorary chair, someone to laud for his or her contributions to the organization. This year’s honoree is Jane Lanier, a longtime club member.
In addition to the slate of homes on view, this year’s tour will include special seed paper tickets made from plant seeds.
“It’s not chemically treated or colored and the point is to really just practice what we preach, which is being as green as we possibly can,” Mansfield said, adding the type of plant that will grow from each seed paper is a surprise. “The tickets were an easy way to do that with the seed paper because if patrons want to stick them in the ground somewhere, they’re going to get something green.
“If they throw them away, this paper has no carbon footprint. We felt like that was a really good way to practice what our mission is, which is protecting the environment and promoting horticultural and conservation initiatives.”
Tour tickets are $35 per person in advance and $40 at the door. In advance, tickets can be purchased at Buckhead’s Boxwoods Garden and Gifts (100 E. Andrews Drive) and Lucy’s Market (56 E. Andrews Drive) and online at www.peachtreegardenclub.org.