Freeport house tour highlights history, holidays

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

The Freeport Renaissance Association takes “home for the holidays” to heart each year with house tours that are at the center of its Christmas celebrations.

This year, the house tours take place Friday through Sunday with various holiday events throughout the day Saturday.

The tours showcase two homes and a historic church, which now houses the Freeport Community and History Center for the borough.

“It is good for the town as a whole and also for the business community,” says Mary Bowlin, of the association. “We are grateful to the folks who share their homes in this way.”

For Marge Christy, whose historic Washington Street home is part of the tour, the event is one she is eagerly anticipating.

“I go to this every year,” she says. “We care about our community, and it's for a good cause.”

This is the first year Marge and her husband, Merdy, will open up the home they've owned since 2008. Interior restoration work on the stately home is complete, they say, and just in time for the house's 100th anniversary. Those behind the tours couldn't be happier.

“From day one, they would ask us to do it,” Merdy Christy says. “We bought this home and were almost immediately asked to put it on the tour.”

The three-story, four-square-style house, set high so that it overlooks the borough, has been restored and updated, but many of its features are original.

Among those are the doors, the seven fireplaces and the stained-glass windows. Even the brass curtain rods are original to the house.

Those on the tour can expect the Christmas decor to fit right in. Just a few of the decorations are a 5-foot tall antique feather Christmas tree, antique brass reindeer and Merdy's grandparents' rocking chairs from the 1890s.

Also featured on the tour is the riverfront Camerlo home on River Forest Drive and what was once the Trinity Episcopal Church at High and Sixth streets.

Carol Sweeney, an association member who has headed the former church's transformation, says the building will be used as a history and community center, and be available to rent for services, weddings and receptions.

This weekend, those on the tour can get a first glimpse of the building, which dates to 1837.

“It's just adorable,” Sweeney says. “It's so old and quaint, and there's a little bit of history.”

The Freeport Renaissance Association won't only offer a peek of the church in its holiday best. Members will serve cookies, coffee and hot cocoa.

In addition to taking in the holiday splendor of Freeport, guests can also take part in a host of events through the weekend that are sure to help get anyone into the holiday spirit.

On Saturday, Freeport will become a holiday destination bright and early.

At 9 a.m., the New to You Holiday Sale, which offers gently used items, will begin at the Freeport Area Library. Just half an hour later, at 9:30 a.m., kids can have breakfast with Santa at the United Presbyterian Church on High Street.

For lunch, there are plenty of options at the “food court” in the Freeport Junior High School cafeteria. But that's not all being offered there. More shopping will also be on the menu for those who visit the Christmas County Store, also in the cafeteria. There, the public will be able to vote on entries in the celebration's gingerbread-house contest.

A parade takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday. Sunday afternoon, St. Mary, Mother of God Roman Catholic Church hosts a free concert at 2 p.m. featuring choral ensemble One Voice.

“Freeport is a wonderful town, and it is our pleasure to share it with others with events like Freeport Celebrates Christmas,” Bowlin says.

Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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