Charlotte McNeal has decked the halls of her Starkville home, one of five to be featured in the Dec. 8 Starkville Civic League Christmas Tour of Homes. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
November 30, 2013 11:44:05 PM
When it comes to Christmas, Charlotte McNeal feels she is more child than grown-up. Which is one of the reasons she and her husband, Eddie, are looking forward to having their home among the five on tour Sunday, Dec. 8 for the Starkville Civic League's annual Christmas Tour of Homes.
In addition to the McNeals at 819 W. Lakeshore Drive, hosts and hostesses opening their doors from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. include Mr. and Mrs. Francis Lee, 202 Gillespie St.; Mr. and Mrs. Dale Peyton, 405 Broad St.; Mr. and Mrs. Sam Reynolds, 404 Greensboro St.; and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wilson, 47 Windward Bluff.
The Civic League fundraiser provides scholarships to area high school seniors and benefits community projects that, in the past, have included the purchase of downtown banners and soccer field signage, and support for the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum and Starkville Public Library.
"Everything we generate from our fundraiser goes back into the community," said Janey Stubbs, who co-chairs the tour with Jane Loveless.
The holiday showcase offers a variety of architecture and styles that reflect the personalities, traditions and memories of the homeowners.
The McNeal's classic country-style house in the Browning Creek subdivision incorporates several features Charlotte McNeal describes as "This Old House" -- like beadboard, farm sinks and hexagon floor tiles. Yet, it retains a contemporary openness that suits the family's lifestyle. Their love of music inspired them to create a music room dedicated to Charlotte's piano and Eddie's guitars.
Christmas decor ranges from traditional to whimsical and is often generously applied with grandchildren in mind.
"Decorating our home has always been about surrounding ourselves with things we enjoy, treasured family photos, 18th century style furniture, my china collection, lots of color and some child-like whimsy, especially at Christmas time," said Charlotte.
More tour highlights
Joan Wilson is a confirmed decorator.
"I do this about five times a year; I've said I have a short attention span," laughed Joan, who decorates the ranch-style home she shares with husband Robert for New Year's, spring, Fourth of July, autumn and Christmas.
Wilson's collection of girls' toys from the 1950s, 1960s and even earlier is a unique attraction at the home.
"I think the fact that I clear out all my normal decor to put up Christmas is unusual," Joan said. "I just like things that make me smile. It's done from the heart and all things I enjoyed finding and collecting."
Sam and Anita Reynolds' house near the Greensboro Center has been in the Reynolds family since it was built in 1869. Sam is the fourth generation to call it home. The Victorian-styled frame dwelling has housed judges, soldiers, librarians, mayors and realtors in the Reynolds' family tree. The home's character and furnishings offer a glimpse into the tastes of the previous ladies of the house.
"We try to stay near to the Victorian period in the Christmas decor," said Joan, a former Natchez resident who served as a frequent docent in that historic city.
"That was one of my biggest losses when I moved," she said. "I'm quite used to tours and really enjoy talking to people, so I'm looking forward to Dec. 8."
Past and present
Francis and Shirley Lee's home, Pure Water Ridge, dates back to 1872 and features original wood floors and what are believed to be the original fireplaces. Its period furnishings are consistent with the Gothic revival style of the exterior of the house. The home is in a continuing state of redecorating to period furnishings by Steve Bengel of West Point. Its Christmas designs and installations are provided by Sanina Fuentes.
Dale and Karol Peyton have lived around the globe, thanks to the couple's careers. About 16 years ago, they purchased the 1950s ranch-style home on Broad Street as a "ballgame" base for gridiron weekends in Starkville. Karol grew up in Starkville and attended what is now Mississippi University for Women. Dale is an alumnus of S.D. Lee High School in Columbus and went to Mississippi State University. Two years ago, they retired and have remodeled the "getaway" into a permanent home.
The Peyton's Christmas decor includes items they've acquired throughout their world travels, as well as Karol's Snow Village she has collected for 25 years.
"This is a real fun and livable house with lots of little nooks and crannies," said Karol.
How to go
Tour tickets are $20, available Dec. 8 at the Starkville Public Library, 326 University Drive, where refreshments will be served from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Or get tickets in advance at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, The Book Mart, Designers Gallery or from Civic League members.
For more information, contact Janey Stubbs, 662-323-0917.
As a complement to the tour, the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum will be open from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., and feature a display of creches from around the world.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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