The Ware River Circle has a Christmas Open House for charity

GLOUCESTER — Visitors will be able to see handmade holiday decorations, historic architecture and a huge collection of antiques all in one visit and benefiting a good cause.

Historic Lisburne Farm off the Severn River in Gloucester is this year's host for the Ware River Circle of the King's Daughters and Sons 24th Annual Christmas Open House. The Tuesday, Dec. 10 event benefits Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters and its Ronald McDonald House.

Last year's event raised more than $10,000, according to organizers.

Lisburne owners David and Mary Peebles will open their home for this fundraiser for the third time.

"I've always done it," said Mary Peebles, who has lived in the house for 48 years. "I've been open for Historic Garden Week 10 times through the years. This is my third time for this, and I like to share.

"It's a nice thing to share, and people are very appreciative of it. That's what makes it worthwhile."

The open house also could be the last time visitors are able to see the home decorated with the Peebles' enormous collection of antiques because the property is for sale.

The circa-1810 Georgian style plantation manor home with colonial revival details is surrounded by lush gardens on 19 acres. The house is filled with a stunning array of visual interest already, even before being decorated for the holidays.

David Peebles, retired president and CEO of Ferguson Enterprises, and his wife Mary are avid antique collectors. They are still active in their store, Swan Tavern Antiques in Yorktown.

A huge collection of 18th and early 19th century antiques, highlighted by a collection of miniature furniture including salesman and apprentice samples, fills each room of their home. The miniatures include a wide array of furniture ranging from a Philadelphia side chair, chest tables, sideboards and blanket chests to a Pennsylvania high boy.

Paintings, including many portraits, and framed family photos fill the walls and surfaces of each room.

The couple, the third owners of the home, bought it in 1958. At the time it had no electricity, central heat or plumbing.

They began restoration in 1964, and moved into the house the following year. They added a library and master bedroom wing in 1980.

All natural arrangements, which the Ware River Circle will create from items found in the great outdoors, will add the holiday flavor.

Kitty Martin, decorating chair, created a centerpiece for the dining room table that featured pine cones hot glued into magnolia leaves.

A total of 16 rooms will be decorated.

"All the arrangements will coincide with the home, which is a colonial home," Martin said. "And it will be all natural. This house is magical, and we're going to turn it into an enchanting home."

Homemade food is always featured on the tours. This year black olive spread sandwiches, madeleine cookies and cereal crisps have been added to the snacks and sweets including the usual chicken salad, ham biscuits, smoked salmon and bittersweet fudge with sea salt.

Ware River Circle members said they are thrilled to be able to have Lisburne open for their event this year.

"We're decorating 16 rooms, which is a huge amount," said circle member Carol Negus. "There are so many antiques in here that are so priceless. It's just amazingly exquisite."