Tour of Homes
Big Thicket Messenger - December 2007
The Polk County Heritage Society is celebrating its 25th annual Christmas Tour of Homes on Saturday, December 1, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. The event will set the mood for a joyous holiday season with an outstanding lineup of homes on tour.
The annual event is a fundraiser for the Society and proceeds benefit the care and maintenance of Heritage Park in downtown Livingston. For many this annual event has become a tradition that signals the beginning of a joyous holiday season in Livingston.
The 25th annual Tour will include the locations that are open during the evening event. The Ila Brown House at 312 West Milam, the Dot and Ken Musgrove home at 158 Mockingbird Lane, the Toni and Scott Hughes home at 4031 FM 1988 South, the Polk County Garden Club’s ‘Miss Effie’s Cottage’ at 204 West Mill Street, the Society’s Christmas Train Village at 503 North Washington and the Society’s Heritage Park at 507 West Church and Drew Street in Livingston.
The Society’s own Heritage Park, located at the corner of Church and Drew Street, across from the Library, is a favorite stop on the annual tour. The Society invites you to enjoy an old fashioned holiday celebration with sparkling lights, glowing luminaries and all the sounds, smells and tastes of Christmases past. Members of the Society and community volunteers have been working diligently for months on the interior restoration of the little pink Victorian house known as Heritage House.
The newly renovated house will be decorated for the holidays with a Victorian theme and guests can enjoy fresh gingerbread, cookies and warm wassail while browsing the assortment of holiday gifts in the Society’s gift shop. Step back in time while touring the Jonas Davis Log Cabin, adorned for the season with fresh greenery fruits and the simple pleasures of an old fashioned Christmas. Experience the excitement of childhood watching Locomotive #5, circa 1911, all aglow with thousands of sparkling lights chug quietly through the night on its holiday journey.
Christmas from other countries will be the theme of the Polk County Garden Club’s Miss Effie’s Cottage. Each room of this Turn-of-the-Century cottage will be decorated with a different country’s theme. England, Germany, Mexico, Australia, France, the Orient, and of course, the Untied States, will feature Christmas traditions and objects of art. It is good for children and adults alike to share the warm glow of Christmas in far away places, as well as home.
One of the homes featured on the Tour is the Ila Hill-Brown home. The historic George Sawyer home, built in 1874, has been the home of Ila Hill-Brown and her daughter, Amanda, since February of 2003. The home, which was originally built on U.S. Highway 59, was moved to its present location in the early 1900’s. It has Queen Anne architecture and features many gables and an intricate roofline. The ceilings are eleven feet tall and all of the wood floors are original to the house. Even a clawfoot bathtub is original.
Ms. Hill-Brown has decorated her home with some sentimental pieces. Her Victorian sofa set is a gift from her mother and the Steinway piano is a gift from her aunt. There are Christmas trees in every room and, in one room is a special favorite of Ila’s, a ceramic tree, which was given to her by her father.
The dining room has a bay window and a Georgian dining room set. This makes a beautiful setting for a Christmas dinner. The home has three bedrooms. The front room decorated in a lavender and green, has a reproduction Victorian bedroom suite. The kitchen has been remodeled with oak cabinets but has its original vent hood.
The large family room, which was added to the house in the 1900’s, is a comfortable, welcoming room. Lace curtains have been used throughout the home to give a Victorian elegance. When you see the warm yellow exterior with its beautiful gingerbread trim, you will be immediately transported back to another time period filled with grace and beauty.
The home of Ken and Dot Musgrove will be one of the highlights on the Polk County Society’s 25th Annual Christmas Tour of Homes. The Musgrove home is beautifully decorated in every room but at the same time exudes a feeling of warmth and hospitality for family and visitors alike.
The them of the decorations is a Christian Family Christmas. Nativity scenes from different countries and Thomas Kincaid lighted trees take us back to Bethlehem and the true meaning of the Christmas season. Young and old alike are always searching for the Christ Child at this season of the year.
In the dining room upstairs two tables are set for holiday dining. The Musgrove family loves to gather at Mee Maw and Paw Paw’s house on Christmas Eve, where love is served, along with their favorite foods.
After visiting the formal living room, the master bedroom will exit where they will see a tribute to American soldiers and the lighted garden below. Downstairs visitors will enjoy the family room, the porch and the children’s bedrooms filled with traditional holiday decorations.
Even the bathrooms put you in the holiday spirit. Mr. and Mrs. Santa will be having a snack on the decorated downstairs porch.
It is obvious that Ken and Dot enjoy their church, their home, their friends, and their extensive family. All are welcome in this Christmas house.
The Society is also pleased to have the Toni and Scott Hughes home as part of their Tour.
The Hughes family built their elegant ranch style home on FM 1988 five years ago. The home is both beautiful and comfortable for this young family which includes a son, Cpl. Hunter Hughes, a son, Jeffrey, in the eighth grade, a daughter, Becca, a seventh grade cheerleader, and a son, Simon, who just celebrated his fourth birthday. The expanded family includes six dogs, one cat, four rabbits, a pet pig, five miniature horses and an assortment of cattle.
The spacious high ceiling in the great room houses a fifteen foot tree decorated with deer horns and pinecones, topped with a cowboy hat. Massive antler chandeliers decorate both the great room and the dining room. The Christmas tree in the family room houses a collection of family ornaments acquired through the years.
The other tree is a Wizard of Oz tree. (The Wizard of Oz is a special favorite of all the family). All of the children have trees in their bedrooms. Visitors will also enjoy the lighted Christmas villages displayed in the home. Outside there is an impressive barbed wire Christmas tree and a live Nativity is planned. Inside and outside their home represents a perfect Texas Christmas.
The tour is come-and-go between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. and a detailed map to each of the private homes will be available. Advanced tickets are now on sale. Advanced tickets are $5.00 for adults and $1.00 for children under 12. Tickets may be purchased at the Polk County Memorial Museum at 514 West Mill Street or at Good Golly Miss Molly’s at 207 North Beatty Street in Livingston. Proceeds from this charity event help the Society maintain Heritage Park. Tickets will also be available at the door during the Tour and will cost $7.00 each for adults and $2.00 for children under 12.
For additional information on the event, contact Molly Anderson at (936) 327-5945 or Ruth Hollenbeck at (936) 327-8401.