---- — Ever drive by a house and wish you could take a look around inside? A few local organizations have turned that desire into fundraisers that are satisfying to their budgets and the public’s interest.
The Kent-Delord House Museum in Plattsburgh was one of the first to capitalize on the idea when it introduced Secret Garden Tours years ago. Participants paid a donation and picked up maps that took them to several area houses featuring beautiful gardens. The host homeowners stood in the yards to greet guests and talk about their backyard bounty.
It was a hit with the public right from the start and remains a popular fundraiser. So, eight years ago, the Kent-Delord House seized on that summer success and created a winter version: the Secret Holiday House Tour. The fundraiser lets you go inside homes and look at how they are spruced up for the holidays.
This year, Press-Republican Editor Lois Clermont joined Lake Champlain Weekly Editor Caroline Kehne and Josh Kretser of Pod Studio as judges.
We share their reviews (in order of their tour stops) as an acknowledgment to the generous people who opened their homes to about 150 people that afternoon:
Clinton Community College Alumni Cottage: The cottage was cozy and warm, with a fire glowing under a decorated mantle and the large conference-room table set with blue and white Royal Copenhagen dishes and Finish and Swedish glassware. Crystal candleholders of varying heights, placed on a rectangular mirror, held white candles. A window mantle was decorated with a collection of German smokers — wooden figurines in which incense is placed.
Allene Davis, Peru: This was a homemade Christmas, with the Davis family talents on display in every room: hand-crafted Santas and dolls; a hooked holiday rug; a small, painted sled; and a tree full of handmade decorations. Topping it off, trays of delicious homemade cookies, including gluten-free.
Sharon Bell, Peru: A step into the past, with a collection of old-fashioned wax Christmas candles and snow globes, a cross-stitch nativity set and delightful bubbler decorations on the tree. A large wooden dough bowl cradled evergreen boughs.
Mark and Tracie Fountain, Plattsburgh: The two children were the highlight of this stop; the boy giving tours of the family’s thoughtfully arranged miniature village and the girl playing Christmas songs on a keyboard and singing. Also seen: a tall, decorated tree, holiday Beanie Babies and the Elf on the Shelf.
Scott Miller and John Mashtare Jr., Plattsburgh: The scents of Christmas — cinnamon, balsam — greeted guests as soon as they stepped into this exquisitely decorated home. The beautiful furnishings provided the perfect setting for eight themed trees, mostly live but including two shimmering, gold, decorative trees. Lighting was a highlight as candles glowed in holiday arrangements in each room.
The tour ended back at the holiday-bedecked Kent-Delord Museum, which holds special collections on display.
Other organizations around the North Country have sponsored similar tours. They make for a fun afternoon, and we hope the idea continues to grow.