If you go
What: Annual Victorian Christmas Tour & Tea
When: 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Parkersburg's Julia-Ann Square Historic District
Cost: $15 for guided tours and tea on Saturday; $10 for self-guided tour Sunday
Info: To reserve tickets, call 304-422-9861 or 304-485-7184
FYI: On Saturday, visitors may purchase tickets at First United Methodist Church at Tenth and Juliana Streets, where the tea also takes place. On Sunday, ticket sales take place at the four homes on the tour.
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Judy Smith embraced the ambitious restoration of an 1890 Victorian home here when she and her husband, Norman, purchased it in 1990.
She also became an active member of the Julia-Ann Square Historic District and its efforts to make sure the rich history of the neighborhood was preserved and protected.
Norman says he isn't as passionate about historical homes and antiques as Judy is. The couple met when both were living and working in Florida and she shared her dream to return to her hometown. He says he readily agreed.
"She's into all this and I'm into her," he joked.
Yet it was Norman, now 78, who suggested they walk a block over from their Ann Street home to Juliana Street to take a look at the Caswell House when it went on the market eight years ago.
Judy, now 69, balked.
"I said, 'No, no, we're too old,' " she recalled. One house project was enough.
Except that the Caswell House, build in 1885, was two-thirds bigger than their first home. Built by a man who ran mill and lumber businesses, it was a monument to lovely woods, with cherry, walnut and oak used lavishly throughout. Details include two Tiffany stained glass windows, 12-foot, 3-inch ceilings on the main floor and seven fireplaces. The green tiles surrounding one fireplace contain a center tile stamped with the image of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow — and his signature.
Like many of the houses in the historical district, it told a story. And the Smiths fell in love with it. Long story short, they became the owners of two homes in the district. They now reside in the Caswell home and rent their former home to a local doctor.
Saturday and Sunday, the Caswell home will be one of four in the historic district that will welcome visitors for the Annual Victorian Christmas Tour & Tea, an event designed to be both educational for visitors and profitable for the historic district.