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Laurel's Holiday House Tour has artistic bonus this year

Holiday House Tour Chairman Clayton Cooper Jr.'s home was a stop on the Laurel Historical Society's tour in 2013.
Holiday House Tour Chairman Clayton Cooper Jr.'s home was a stop on the Laurel Historical Society's tour in 2013. (Nate Pesce)

Old Town resident Clayton Cooper Jr. knows a thing or two about house tours. His own Sixth Street residence, decorated in full tilt for the holidays, was one of the stops on the Laurel Historical Society's 2013 Holiday House Tour.

This year, the historical society asked Cooper to chair the committee that is organizing the Holiday House Tour, which will be held on Saturday, Dec. 12.

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First duty for the committee was to ask homeowners if they'd like to be on the tour.

"We got a lot of no's," Cooper said. "People want to do it but they think their house has to be immaculate and drenched in holiday decorations."

The committee was able to enlist five homeowners, all in Old Town, and added two Main Street businesses: A. M. Kroop and Sons, long-time family business that makes riding boots and leather goods; and Laurel Mill Playhouse.

Cooper said the addresses of the tour stop homes will not be released in advance, but that tour-goers could expect to walk between each of the stops.

Cooper also helped broker a collaboration between the house tour and another local group he has membership with, the Laurel Arts District Committee, which promotes local artists and the establishment of the arts district in the Main Street neighborhood. In a joint effort, an empty home has been turned into an art gallery tour stop, The Gallery at 515. Cooper said the featured artwork will include multi-media, canvas and glass, and live musicians will perform during the tour.

"It's completely empty and renovated, with no one living there, so they didn't have to move furniture out," Cooper said.

Ada Ghuman, chairwoman of the Laurel Arts District Committee, called the gallery tour stop "a marvelous collaboration," one she hopes to continue to explore.

Ghuman said the Laurel Arts District Committee and the Laurel Historical Society reflect each other's work, "in the town in general and also dealing with arts and history."

Lindsey Baker, executive director of the historical society, echoed that sentiment. "The collaboration between the Laurel Historical Society and the Laurel Arts District Committee is just one example of the good things that come when volunteers make connections between different groups doing good work in the community," she said.

Baker said the partnership Cooper created between the two groups "is certainly innovative and I think will really strengthen the tour."

About half of the 13 artists displaying at The Gallery at 515 are from Laurel. The 25 pieces on display were created using assorted mediums, Ghuman said, including acrylic, oil, soft pastels, water color, mix media and photography.

The tour begins at the Laurel Museum, where tickets will be sold and tour-goers will pickup wristbands for admission to the tour stops and a booklet with details on the stop locations.

The Laurel Historical Society's Holiday House Tour is Saturday, Dec. 12 from 2 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 on tour day purchased at the Laurel Museum. Main Street businesses offering tickets for sale include Rainbow Florist, Main Street Pharmacy, Hey, Red, Minuteman Press, More than Java Cafe and Olive on Main. Fulton Station Jewelers on Scaggsville Road, also sells advance tickets. Contact the Laurel Historical Society at 301-725-7975 or info@laurelhistoricalsociety.org.

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