Homes tour highlights history, beauty

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ever wanted to peek inside those gorgeous Victorian homes on Spring Street? You'll get your chance on Sat., Dec. 1, with the 25th annual Candlelight Tour of Homes, presented by the Eureka Springs Preservation Society. The tour lasts from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and features fourteen different homes and businesses along Spring Street in downtown Eureka Springs. In addition to seeing each site all decked out for the holidays, folks taking the tour will discover some of the town's intriguing history, and even long-time locals will learn a thing or two.

  The tour kicks off at 254 Spring Street, built in 1881 and known as the Adams house, and continues toward the center of downtown, including popular sites like the often-photographed Fuller Cottage at 229 Spring St., built in 1886 and still owned by descendants of the original builder and U.S. Congressman, Wilmont P. Fuller. Another treat on the tour is 211 Spring Street, a home built in 1881 for Powell Clayton, a powerful politician of the era and a major mover and shaker that helped shape Eureka Springs. Stop by Crescent Spring, which once supplied water for the Crescent Hotel just up the hill. Over the years, the spring's gazebo has been restored to its former glory, including a period replica Victorian lantern, added just last month.

  Another stop worth its weight in town trivia is Daffodil Cottage, built in 1886 and formerly used as a parsonage. The cottage was seriously damaged by fire last year, and the owners have remained dedicated to bringing the bright yellow landmark back to top condition. Incidentally, the cottage's sunshine hue is historic; an old Arkansas law dictated that all parsonages be painted yellow, so even illiterate folks could find them.

  Other must-sees on the tour include Piedmont House, one of the oldest inns still standing in Eureka Springs, and chock-full of fascinating history; and the cottages at 138 and 140 Spring Street, set high in the air, resting gently on stone foundations and a convenient cliff face. These two cottages have fascinated passersby for years, and have recently been renovated, so don't miss the chance to go inside.

  To make the day a complete holiday celebration, choir music, young carolers, jazz bands, refreshments and other Victorian entertainments will liven up the tour route, and guides stationed at each home make history come alive. All sites on the tour are on somewhat level ground, or what passes for level in Eureka Springs, but there's still quite a bit of walking plus some stairs to navigate, so wear comfortable shoes. Parking is limited, and the best way to get around on the tour is with the trolley system.

  Tour tickets are available at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum, and the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce. Advance tickets are $15, or $20 on the day of the tour. Children aged 12 and under receive free admission. For more info, call the Chamber at (479) 253-8737, 800-638-7352, or (479) 253-9417.

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