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franklin county times

Trees of Christmas'
Holiday spirit shines in Meridian

By Staff
DECKING THE HALLS Betsy Rawson, a member of the Galaxy Literary Club, prepares a Christmas table arrangement while Dovie Hill, left, and Neeta Sanders place ornaments on the Poinsettia Tree inside the F.W. Williams Home. The ladies are among several volunteers who decorated the F.W. Williams Home and Merrehope for the holidays in preparation for the 34th Annual Trees of Christmas. Photo by Paula Merritt/ The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
Dec. 8, 2002
Brown cardboard boxes filled with Christmas decorations, some more than 30 years old, lined the floors of Merrehope and the F.W. Williams Home.
Volunteers, assigned to both houses, used the delicate ornaments last week to decorate 11 Christmas trees that tower between 9- and 12-feet tall at both historic homes.
Garland, seasonal flowers, a Nativity scene and a Christmas village also were placed in the homes all in preparation for the 34th Annual Trees of Christmas that begins Monday.
Guided tours begin Monday and continue through Dec. 15. The Candlelight Tour is from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; refreshments will be served and the Wesley Belles will sing at 7.
Long tradition
The Trees of Christmas is a tradition at Merrehope and the F.W. Williams Home.
The annual tour began in 1969 as the major fund-raiser for the Meridian Restorations Foundation. Merrehope is a 144-year-old, 20-room mansion that originally was built as a simple cottage.
Merrehope was one of a few buildings in Meridian spared in Union Gen. William T. Sherman's march from Atlanta to Vicksburg in 1864 during the Civil War.
The F.W. Williams home was built by Frank W. Williams, who helped establish the insurance industry in Mississippi. It was moved to its current location beside Merrehope in 1979.
Christmas trees
Both homes are furnished with antiques and feature unusual woodwork and glass. They will house Christmas trees decorated with one-of-a-kind ornaments.
Volunteers worked much of last week preparing the homes for visitors.
In addition to members of the Meridian Restorations Foundation's seven literary clubs, the local home-schooler's club, area businesses and the Meridian Navy Officers Spouses Club will decorate trees.