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franklin county times

Trees of Christmas Tour opens Dec. 2

By Staff
Nov. 24, 2000
TRIMMING THE TREE Kathy Busbee, chairman of the Trees of Christmas Tour at Merrehope and F.W. Williams House, places an ornament on one of the many trees featured. The 32nd annual event will be held Dec. 2-9 at the homes located at 905 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Drive. "Christmas Heritage" is the theme for the tour, which is presented by Cellular South and The Meridian Restorations Foundation Inc. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ida Brown/The Meridian Star
Thirteen trees reflecting diverse heritages will be featured this year during the Trees of Christmas Tour at Merrehope and F.W. Williams House.
Presented by Cellular South and the Meridian Restorations Foundation, the 32nd annual event will be held Dec. 2-9. The two historic homes are located at 905 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Drive.
Trees will be decorated and displayed at both homes. In addition to members of the foundation's seven clubs, local schools, clubs and organizations will decorate trees.
A traditional American Christmas tree will also be featured. The 12-foot tree will be decorated with popcorn strings, cranberries, antique ornaments, glass balls and icicles. The tree will be titled, "Lest We Forget."
Local florists will decorate the doors, mantels and stairways of the homes. Santa's Workshop will be filled with homemade breads, cakes, cookies, candies and pies baked fresh daily. Foundation members will provide the treats, while members of the area's homemaker clubs have volunteered to set up shop and man it. Merrehope's gift shop, featuring handmade craft items, will also be open.
Guided tours of the homes will begin Dec. 2 and continue through Dec. 9. A candlelight tour is scheduled for Dec. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.
The homes will be open for regular tours throughout the month of December.
The annual tour began in 1969 as the major fund-raiser for the Meridian Restorations Foundation. When the tour began, Merrehope was in the early stages of restoration and only six trees were spotlighted.
Merrehope grew from a simple cottage to what is now a 20-room mansion. It was one of only a few buildings in Meridian spared in Union Gen. William T. Sherman's campaign between Atlanta and Vicksburg in 1864. The F.W. Williams home was built by Frank W. Williams, who was instrumental in establishing the insurance industry in Mississippi.
Both homes are furnished with antiques and feature unusual woodwork and glass.
Admission for the tour is $8 for adults, $2 for students through high school. For more information, call the Meridian Restorations Foundation at 483-8439 or the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau at (888) 868-7720.
Ida Brown is lifestyles editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at ibrown@meridianstar.com