Adding to the area's holiday festivities, the Marshall County Historical Society is presenting a Christmas tour, with proceeds to benefit the Cockayne House preservation project in Glen Dale.
Self-guided tours of six sites in Marshall County will be offered from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13. One ticket gains entry to all six houses. One featured house is located in Moundsville, while the others are all in Glen Dale.
The tour includes the Bloyd house at 600 Tomlinson Ave., Moundsville; the house has been in the same family since it was built between 1900 and 1905. Billie Bloyd is the current owner. Tour organizers said visitors will see a collection of 300 dolls, spanning over 100 years, at this home.
The Glen Dale sites are Dick and Jean Maidens' house, a mid-20th-century structure at 17 Wheeling Ave.; the Bonnie Dwain Bed and Breakfast, a Victorian-era house owned by Bonnie and Sidney Grisell and located at 505 Wheeling Ave.; Pete and Jamie Prettyman's early 20th-century home at 606 Wheeling Ave.; the Blair house, a log house built in 1999 at 308 12th St.; and the Cockayne farmhouse and tenant house at 1111 and 1105 Wheeling Ave.
The Cockayne farmhouse, a wood frame structure, was built in 1850; restoration of the exterior was completed last month. At the Cockayne tenant house, tour-goers will be able to partake of cookies and hot chocolate and see a glimpse of the ongoing restoration of the property.
Tour tickets can be purchased at the Cockayne tenant house (Monday through Wednesday only), the Moundsville-Marshall County Library and the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce, or by calling 304-845-9750.
Society official Nila Chaddock related that the group had "an extremely busy" and "very awesome" November. At the end of October, the Marshall County Historical Society received a prestigious award from the Pioneer America Society for its work on the Glen Dale project. "But we really hit the jackpot in November," Chaddock said, "We completed exterior restoration of the farmhouse; we located funding to continue the employment of program director Tom Tarowsky (who was the impetus for luring Rick Sebak to Marshall County and also creating a mutually beneficial collaboration with West Virginia University) and we cut the trees down off the Indian Burial Mound behind the farmhouse and cleared that area."
She continued, "Then, on my wish list, was lighting around the farmhouse to highlight it at night and provide protection from vandalism. Someone granted my wish!"
Did you know that the White House's 2009 Christmas trees include a West Virginia tree?
The White House national Christmas tree lighting ceremony last week featured an 18-1/2-foot Douglas fir from the farm of Eric and Gloria Sundback of Shepherdstown. The West Virginia tree is displayed in the Blue Room on the State Floor of the White House.
John and Pinkie Williams of Wheeling were honored at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., as they were selected to light the Great Hall Christmas Tree on Thanksgiving Eve, the official start to the holiday season at the historic resort.
Melissa Pogue, a public relations staff member for The Homestead, said, "Mr. and Mrs. Williams are longtime guests of The Homestead, having visited for more than 35 years. Each year for the past 23 years, the Williamses have arranged for their growing family to spend the Thanksgiving holiday together at the resort. The Homestead is a resort where many family traditions are started, and the staff at the resort treasures this wonderful family who has been visiting for decades."
During the festivities, Mr. and Mrs. Williams and their family "flipped the switch" to illuminate The Homestead's grounds for the holiday season. Peter Faraone, vice president and general manager of The Homestead, joined them for the celebration.
It appears that the final chapter is being written in the sad demise of Mount de Chantal in Wheeling. The announcement last week that the Vatican has "ordered" the five remaining Visitation sisters to leave Mount de Chantal and move to the Georgetown Visitation monastery in Washington, D.C., has renewed questions about the fate of the former academy's historic property in Wheeling.
Since the school's closing in May 2008, the number of nuns in residence has dwindled, and now only five remain. With their impending departure, speculation and rumors abound regarding the soon-to-be-vacated property. Alumnae and supporters of the former academy wonder what will become of the Mount's historic treasures, including furniture, artwork and religious elements, that have been part of the Wheeling community for 161 years.
Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net