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Carolers in period costume serenade tour-goers at the annual house tour in Church Hill.
Photos by Isaac Harrell
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Homeowner Brian Adams ladles hot cider for visitors
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Betsy Blair welcomes tourgoers into her home.
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Carolers, complete with period costumes, roamed the streets of Church Hill last year during the neighborhood’s annual holiday house tour, showing residents and visitors alike exactly what fa-la-la-la-ing was supposed to sound like.
It’s not your usual house tour, starting with a candlelight walk from Union Hill to Libby Hill Park the night before.
“We’re a very cohesive neighborhood,” says Aimee Seibert, immediate past president of the Church Hill Association. “It’s almost like living in a tiny small town within Richmond. … People feel that camaraderie when they come here for the house tour. It’s a great opportunity to see how people live in different parts of the city.”
Homeowners lavish love on the neighborhood’s old houses, some of which date back to before the 1850s. The CHA finds homeowners willing to open their doors in a couple of different ways. “We advertise and ask people to volunteer to put their house on [the tour],” says Seibert. “We keep a list of who’s been on it already, [and] we know who’s been renovating, so we ask them.”
Although all of the homes are dressed up in their holiday finery, there are no rules about decorating, and the CHA offers help to anyone who may need it. Houses can look very traditional on the outside and have a surprisingly modern styleon the inside. “I think all the houses up here are special,” Seibert says. “It’s a piece of Richmond history that people don’t realize is here.”
This year’s tour will include the oldest house in Church Hill, the Anthony Turner house at 26th and Broad streets, as well as the house on 29th Street where Daniel Day-Lewis hung up his stovepipe hat at night while filming Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
The Historic Church Hill Holiday House Tour will be held on Sunday, Dec. 16, from noon to 5 p.m. For more details, visit churchhill.org.