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Four historic structures await house tour visitors

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Lansdowne
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The Marble House
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James Mills Scottish Factor Store
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Middlesex Woman’s Club

During the last several days, baskets of greens, ornaments and flowers have been spotted going in and out of “The Marble House” and “Lansdowne,” two of the featured homes open this Saturday, December 8, for the annual Historic Urbanna Christmas House Tour.

The beauty of Lansdowne, secure in its historic place on Virginia Street, is magnificent at any time of the year, but at Christmas it’s just simply glorious. The generosity of the owners, Diane and AB Gravatt, to continually open their doors to the many visitors who want to see this historic mansion continues to be appreciated by the entire community.  The decorating committee for Lansdowne will be led by Mrs. Gravatt and Cynthia Naylor of The Wild Bunch, Kilmarnock.

“The Marble House” is located next door to “Lansdowne” and has been an Urbanna landmark for over 100 years, but has maintained its own mystery having been privately owned yet unoccupied for many years.

Owner Eunice Yesker of Maryland has been in the process of restoring this lovely Victorian for over 7 years and tells us that the house has been in her family for 10 generations. “I’ve never been inside,” commented a local merchant recently. “I can’t wait to see it.”

Designers George Witman and Richard Waller from Rolling Road Antiques, Lewis Trimble of Lewis Trimble Decorative Arts & Antiques in Kilmarnock, Danielle David Grinnen of Deliante Design in Lancaster, Dee Chowning of Make Thyme in Urbanna, and Jennifer Millington and Bill Bridgeforth of The Garden Club Interiors in Urbanna comprise the slate of designers who will decorate the interior of the house. 

The lovely curved front porch with notable marble columns and floors will be decorated for the season by Aaron Ward of Wilton Cottage & Garden in Hartfield.

Mrs. Yesker will be on hand along with Urbanna author Larry Chowning, who will be at the house for a book signing.

For history buffs, the excitement this year especially is the opportunity to visit the James Mills Scottish Factor Store (Old Tobacco Warehouse), one of two remaining such buildings left in the country, originally built to support the first colonial tobacco trade back in the late 17th century. Always fascinating, the history of the building will help lead visitors back into time when Urbanna’s unique port was the seat of the earliest commerce exchange with Europe.

Included within the building is the original map of “The British and French Dominions in North America” drawn by John Mitchell in 1755. This is a must see during the tour because the map will soon undergo restoration and not be on exhibit for an undetermined amount of time.

The Middlesex Woman’s Club on Virginia Street will be open to ticket holders of the House Tour and members have promised a delightful nostalgic Christmas experience to the many visitors expected. This year’s theme is “Angels & Cherubs.” Hand-crafted ornaments will be for sale and refreshments served.

The Urbanna Trolley will offer free rides to tour locations, which are all on Virginia Street. Visitors may park at Urbanna United Methodist Church on Marston Ave. where box lunches will be offered and where the trolley will be waiting.

Local merchants are offering specials to ring in the season. “Taste of Urbanna” will host a wine tasting, and Urbanna Harbor Gallery, Cyndy’s Bynn and Lowe Tide will have open houses, especially for tour visitors.

A huge favorite, Crown Donuts of Lancaster, will sell their just-out-of-the-cooker donuts and signature coffee in the parking lot of the Southside Sentinel.

There’s so much to do in Urbanna on Saturday, December 8—great shopping, great dining, and the house tour. Everything gets under way at 10 a.m. and will continue through 4 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for $15 in advance, and for $20 during the tour. Call 758-1606 for more information.

posted 12.05.2012

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