Holiday Home Tours Return
By Michele D. Baker
Photography Credits: Mark Coffey (The Towers, Natchez); Visit Natchez (Sunnyside B&B, Natchez); Graceland (Graceland, Memphis); Rachael Leigh Photography (Natchitoches); Mississippi Department of Archives and History (Governor’s Mansion, Jackson); Liz Jurey, Preservation Resource Center (NOLA)
Some of the South’s historic homes dress up for the holidays and invite residents to take a peek inside.
During the holiday season, many Mid-South cities pull out the stops, and the homes and streets sparkle with lighted trees, holiday wreaths, trumpeting angels, and giant tinsel snowflakes. From Memphis to New Orleans, there’s something for all ages to get in the Christmas spirit. Here are just a few of the many homes that will be decorated this festive season and open for viewing. Happy holidays!
Nov. 19 – Dec. 31: Jeweled Christmas Tours
Architecture and history buffs can marvel at the splendor of this majestically restored home year-round, but each winter, the historic Towers Mansion in Natchez decks the halls with handmade and vintage costume jewelry. Holiday vignettes adorned with magical jewels transform the home into a sparkling wonderland. Admission is $25 (children under 8 admitted free). On select Saturdays, exclusive evening tours by candlelight include music and refreshments. $45 per person, adults only, reservations required.
Nov. 26 – Dec. 31: “Do You See What I See?”
Sunnyside is an elegant, 1850s Greek-Revival cottage situated on 10 lush acres near historic downtown Natchez. During the Christmas season, the historic home — which is also a bed-and-breakfast — decorates more than 30 trees with holiday fashions in graceful southern splendor and opens its doors twice a day for its Christmas at Sunnyside “Do You See What I See?” tours. Tours run daily at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Admission is $20 (children under 12 admitted free).
Dec. 1-20: Graceland Christmas Ultimate VIP Evening Tours
The annual Graceland Christmas tradition is to put up the decorations around Thanksgiving and keep them up through Elvis’ birthday in January. New this year, guests can experience fit-for-a-King Christmas VIP after-hours guided tours of the gardens and curving drive flanked with hundreds of blue lights, a life-size Nativity scene, Elvis’ Santa and sleigh lawn decorations, and more. The interior is beautifully decorated for Christmas with the traditional red velvet drapes and Presley family Christmas artifacts. These limited-size holiday tours are part of the inaugural Graceland Christmas Ultimate VIP Evening Tours packages. Tickets are $250.
Dec. 1-31: Tours of The Corners Mansion Inn
Enjoy views of the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers on your tour of this delightful B&B. Fusing influences from the Greek Revival, Italianate, and Victorian movements, The Corners boasts parterre gardens, period antique furnishings, ornate crown moldings, and Vicksburg pieced columns on the generous front porch. At Christmastime, the mansion is bedecked for the season with twinkling lights and winter greenery. Call (601) 636-7421 for tour reservations. Admission is $10 (children under 2 admitted free).
Dec. 3: Old Jackson by Candlelight
The Governor’s Mansion, one of the finest surviving examples of the Greek Revival style of architecture in the United States, has been the Jackson home of Mississippi governors since 1842. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975, it is the second oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence. At Christmastime, the first family welcomes visitors from across the globe to see the period furnishings and vintage decorations. Free Candlelight Tours from 5 to 8 p.m.
Dec. 11-12: Preservation Resource Center’s Holiday Home Tour
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Preservation Resource Center’s 46th annual Holiday Home Tour showcases the homes of famous New Orleans residents in an Art Garden Tour. Private yards and secret gardens in New Orleans’ Garden District are transformed by local artists into winter wonderlands filled with custom-made, larger-than-life decorations. The tour highlights the incredible diversity of New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods and architecture and includes fascinating details about the history of each house and the community around it. Also, a festive virtual tour series peels back the wrapping on four exquisite houses filled with gorgeous art collections, historic architectural details, and masterful interior design.
Dec. 9, 10, 11 and 16, 17, 18: Christmas Tour of Historic Homes
Experience the charm of historic Natchitoches during the annual Christmas Tour of Homes sponsored by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation. This is a self-guided walking tour, but docents at each location will guide you through the interiors and provide historical commentary on the homes and their unique holiday decorations. Begin at any of the properties and walk the entire circuit. Thursday and Friday tours are from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturday tours are from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 (includes map to all homes on the tour). Proceeds benefit restoration of properties in Natchitoches Parish.