Nothing says Merry Christmas more than a brightly lit home, filled with joy and cheer.
Such homes are abundant and have become an annual tradition in the Parker County Heritage Society's (PCHS) Candlelight Tour of Homes, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 9 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
This is the 40th year for the tour, which began in 1983 - skipping the COVID pandemic year of 2020.
"People come primarily from throughout the North Texas area, mostly Parker County and Fort Worth, but we have had people from other states and countries, usually when they were visiting relatives in the area or staying at the JRB (Joint Reserve Base) in Fort Worth," said Jo-Alice Davis of the PCHS.
This year's tour will have six houses plus Chandor Gardens at 711 W. Lee and St. Stephens Catholic Chapel at 211 S. Main on the route. Two of the houses on the tour this year are also businesses at 110 S. Walnut and an 212 E. Lee.
Homes on the route are at:
505 W. Josephine.
413 W. Lee.
402 W. Simmons.
201 W. Rentz.
“We are so appreciative that the Parker County Heritage Society organizes and hosts the annual Candlelight Tour of Homes.It is always a crowd favorite for locals and visitors highlighting some of the most beautiful & historic homes in our community,” Weatherford Chamber of Commerce President Tammy Gazzola said. “It is wonderful seeing the history of the homes shared as well as preserved.”
The PCHS originally had a Spring Tour for several years. However, Davis said it became hard to find homes whose yards were "great" and the tour was hard on the owners because of that.
"They also thought about doing a night tour," she said. "Several other towns had successful Christmas Tours, including Waxahachie and Cleburne. So, they visited those Tours and decided to emulate or copy them since we have so many historic homes.
"I’ve been involved with the Heritage Society since we moved back to the area in 1994 and had attended some of the original Spring Tours and Candlelight Tours with my mother-in-law before we moved here, always a good time."
The numbers have ebbed and flowed over the years, Davis said, noting that advertising and publicity has changed a lot.
"Last year almost 1,000 tickets were sold, but we are aware that a number of people just jumped in to see the homes when they saw the signs and crowds at a home," she said.
Visitors this year will receive a wristband when they purchase a ticket and they are supposed to be checked at the door to each home.
With tickets (tour booklet) in hand and wristbands on, people can go to the homes in any order. There will not be anything provided to eat or drink.
At the home they will first hear an Actor talk about its history, generally on the front porch. Then they will walk through the home led by a docent, most will see the first floor only.
They will be led to the back exit by another docent.
"It is a fun thing for families or friends to do, especially if they like history, older homes, or Christmas - who doesn’t?," Davis said. "Probably not small children or those who can’t be controlled."
She added that most of the homes have steps to go up on the porch and to leave, so tourists need to be able to navigate these. Sorry, no wheelchairs, baby strollers, etc.
The PCHS is a 501(C)3 organization designed to promote the preservation of buildings, homes and sites of historic or architectural significance within Parker County, to promote the maintenance of documents and records which describe the heritage of the county, and to promote civic interest in historical projects, education and culture throughout Parker County.
Over the years the PCHS has supported many local projects, including more recent projects such as refurbishing and shoring up the structure of the Prince Memorial CME Church on West Oak Street. That included rebuilding the porch and the roof.
Year before last they donated $20,000 to Chandor Gardens to help pay for their long-range master plan. They also helped Chandor with the restoration or replacement of several other items through the years.
The PCHS also accepts grant requests to help historic projects throughout the county per their mission Statement:
Since 1983, the Heritage Society has used the funds raised during its annual Candlelight Tour to accomplish a variety of preservation tasks in the area.
Some of the notable projects/donations include:
1. Relocation and renovation of the log cabin located immediately south of the double log cabin at Holland's Lake Park.
2. The Second Ward school house relocation and renovation at Soldier's Spring Park (it was burned to the ground by vandals).
3. Refurbishment and renovation of the Parker County Courthouse.
4. Restoration of the caboose located next to the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce.
6. Restoration of Greenwood Memorial Chapel on Greenwood Cut-off Road and work on the Greenwood Cemetery.
8. 1888 Parker County map restoration.
9. Chandor Gardens.
10. B-29 memorial plaque in front of the Weatherford Public Library.
11. Texas Pythian Home.
13. Weatherford Public Library Genealogy Room and Heritage Gallery.
14. Parker County Committee on Aging (for future senior citizens center).
15. Storybook Summer (purchase student summer reading materials)
Remax Trinity Real Estate & Michelle Worthington-Alamo Title
A Victorian Queen Anne historical home is a type of architecture that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As you approach this 1892 Queen Anne’s home you will immediately notice the steep roofs with intersecting gables and the one-story wraparound porch with columns. There are ornamental fish scale shingles which enhance the beauty of this house.
The house has the original pine floors which are in pristine shape even though they are 130 years old. The house still has five of the original case windows with the wavy glass.
A magnificent high style Tudor Gothic Revival was completed in 1939 along with the three-unit rental property next door.
Only three families have lived in this stately manor with all its original features. When the present owners purchased the property in 2022, the three-unit rental property was sold separately. This red brick and stone Tudor with a slate roof and the detached garage with an apartment for servants complement the character of this house, along with the diamond glass bay window.
The kitchen is original except for the stove.
Citizen’s National Bank
Wright Dudley Taylor moved to Weatherford at the age of 13. He worked with his father and they formed the Taylor and Taylor Real Estate Company. In 1891 Wright married Catherine Noland and in 1892 they built their first home. The house was built at the southwest corner of Church and Walnut Street where they raised their three children. The house was sold but remained a residence until 2022. It now has been updated although many of the original features are still there and is a Cultivate Real Estate Agency. This house is in the heart of Weatherford.
Kimberly Benge Photograph and Recaptured Charm
Built in 1902 by a hardware merchant named Carter, this home is best known as the Campbell house. Dr. Campbell, a prominent Weatherford physician, purchased the home around World War I and lived there until his death.
This home sits high atop Weatherford on several wooded acres, outlined by original iron fencing. Striking both inside and out, this home features tin ceilings, wainscoting, period lighting, and elegant wooded casework around doorways and windows, all original to the home. Of particular interest is the beautiful custom cabinetry in the kitchen and master bath that blends seamlessly with the home original features. Period antiques and window treatments combined with the architectural features create a turn of the century feel. This home is truly a Weatherford historic showplace.
Lisa Jacobs-Williams Trew Real Estate Company
The former Rose Garden Cottage sits on just over one-fourth of an acre. It was originally part of a five-acre tract of land purchased in 1869 for $150. In 1921 Z.B. Mays purchased the five acres and built the bungalow style home in 1922. Vera Ragle purchased the home in 1947 and she lived there until 1981. She was remembered by locals as a loving school teacher who also taught music lesson in the home. In 2008 the Gillespie’s purchased the home and turned the house into Weatherford’s first stand-alone bed-and-breakfast cottage.
In 2022, it was sold and is now a welcoming eclectic 100-year-old cottage which has been re-imaged by the award-winning interior design firm-Urbanology Design, into just the right mix of vintage charm and modern sophistication. It is now an Airbnb with all the cozy charm and thoughtful design you could dream of, with a whole lot of adventure, whimsy, and mystery.
Holland Lake Rehabilitation Center and Wellness Center
Celebrating its 134th year, this little jewel sits proudly in Weatherford’s Historic Neighborhood. The Victorian Cottage has a transitional style leaning toward Eastlake, demonstrated by the traditional Victorian “fish scale” shakes on the gable, coupled with the simple “Star of Texas” detailing. Inspired by the ornate beauty of large Victorian architecture, the homes offer a charming and sophisticated living experience. From the intricate details of the exterior façade to the rich colors and textured materials, these small Victorian houses exude timeless elegance. Inside, you'll find high ceilings and decorative moldings. This five-room Victorian cottage was built between 1889-1900 for Mrs. Frankie Hutchison.
Gary Peterson bought the home in 2006 and did extensive remodeling, adding to the historical elements.
The first Catholic Church in Weatherford was built at the present site in 1882 and the first rectory in 1888. It was built on land purchased by the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese in Galveston for $300. In 1900, a group of nuns came to Weatherford from New York and established a school at the corner of South Main and Lee Street streets, in a five-room house.
During this period (188-1889), the original church burned and Mass was conducted in the school. In 1902 the present red brick church and frame rectory was built. The basically Queen Anne style has elements of English Gothic Design.
The stained-glass windows are original throughout the building, Notable is the circular rose window with the Virgin in the center.
Originally the red brick building had no basement. In 1923, the basement of the church , which serves as the church hall, was hand dug by parishioners in 1923 led by the Czech contingent.
In 1902,the grapes and vine decoration on the upper walls was added to the church interior. In 1951, Father E, J. Johnson contacted the world-renowned British portrait artist, Douglas Chandor, who completely redecorated the interior of St. Stephen’s. The main alter and side alters were painstakingly done in imported marble paper and gold leaf. He was tragically unable to see his work at the church completed.
In 1953 the Priests of the Irish Province of the Pallottine Fathers were commissioned to care for the Parishioners of St. Stephen's. This year we are celebrating 70 years of the Pallottine Priests serving St Stephen Catholic Church. According to the church leaders “It was wonderful the way the “expanded mission group” worked together sharing their talents to recreate the chapel.
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