Those who want to add a little appreciation of history to their holiday experience this season can join in on a tour of Fulton Victorian homes.
"It's a Victorian Christmas," presented by Fulton Heritage Trust, includes a tour of four Victorian era homes and a Christmas musical performance at the First Presbyterian Church. Homeowners will open their Christmas-decorated, historic houses to the public for viewing between 5-7:30 p.m. on Saturday. An hour of music at the church will immediately follow at 7:30-8:30 p.m. The Victorian home tour falls on a weekend with other Christmas events also happening around Fulton. Earlier in the day, the United Methodist Church will hold its annual bazaar from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. At 1 p.m., the Jaycees' Christmas parade will go through town. On Sunday, the Festival of Lessons and Carols will begin at 5 p.m. in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury at Westminster College.
"The weekend's a big weekend for our Fulton," said Warren Hollrah, member of the Fulton Heritage Trust.
He said the organization always tries to have the home tour on the same day as the Fulton Christmas parade.
Tickets for the home tour are $10 and can be purchased in advance at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society, the Callaway County Chamber of Commerce or Cornerstone Antiques. Cornerstone will be open the evening of the tour, so tickets may still be purchased the day of the event. The music performance at the First Presbyterian is free. The Heritage Trust will also provide a bus for participants who don't want to take their own vehicle.
Hollrah said the homes chosen for the tour are close enough to each other that, weather permitting, people can walk between them. He said most of the participants are from Callaway County, but some people come from outside the county to enjoy the tour as well.
"We have pretty good turnouts, and people look forward to going every year," Hollrah said. "We've done it enough years that it's a tradition."
Vicki McDaniel, president of the Fulton Heritage Trust, said this year's tour is unique in that every home and the church is thought to have been designed by the same architect-M. Fred Bell. She said Bell is well-known in the area for his architecture and lived in Fulton from 1871-1929.
"Bell is our local claim to fame," McDaniel said. "He was a mover and shaker when he was ticking."
Each home on the tour has its own special history to share with guests. Kate Richard owns the Jameson House, 830 Court St., which she said was owned by John Harris Jameson and his family.
"I've done a lot of research and some writing about this family," Richard said.
She said she has letters that date as far back as 1870 that were written by the people who lived in her house. She plans to have her friends, who will help her showcase the home's rooms to visitors, read the letters, so they can share the home's history with those who stop by.
"I think it will be fun to share some things about the house that people probably don't know or haven't heard before," Richard said.
Richard said decorating the house to get it ready for the tour has been a "big job." This year she decided to use a 20-foot Christmas tree among other decorations. However, she said the historical aspects of the house make it special on its own, so she doesn't want to "overdo it."
Hollrah said, "It's a challenge putting it (the tour) together, but it's neat to showcase historical buildings in Fulton, because Fulton has a wealth of historical houses."
"The folks that come through seem to thoroughly enjoy it," McDaniel said. "They like the old houses, seeing how they're decorated for Christmas."
Besides the Jameson House, the other houses on the tour are the Patton-Alexander House, 314 West Seventh St., the Hook-Goodwin and Long House, 705 Jefferson St., and the Fisher-Ogden House, 823 Court St. Each house is thought to be built between 1880-1898. First Presbyterian Church was built in 1885 and is celebrating its 175th anniversary as a church. According to the Heritage Trust, Bell was a member of the church, and it is the oldest surviving church structure in Fulton.