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Touring by candlelight


Anyone looking to take a walk back in time can take a drive to historic Uniontown on Sunday for its biennial candlelight tour.

This year, six homes, three cottages, two churches, a Victorian bank and the old one-room schoolhouse known as the Academy will be featured.

Horse-and-buggy conveyance will be offered from one end of town to the other. Those who want to make a day of the tour -- which begins at noon, ends at 5 p.m. and costs $10 -- can eat lunch at St. Paul's Lutheran, 3330 Uniontown Road.

Volunteers started the candlelight tour in 1982 to raise money to help offset maintenance costs at the Academy and the Victorian bank, said Barbara Childs, a longtime Uniontown resident who has helped organize other town events such as the annual caroling party and Memorial Day parade.

"We hope to raise several thousand dollars from this tour," said Childs. "Half of that will go toward new streetlights. And we have also done quite a bit of restoration work on the Academy."

Childs said the tour is a community effort.

"It takes almost everyone in town to pull this off, from the ticket takers to the cookie bakers, the hostesses and the parkers," she said. "It takes a lot of work, especially for the people who have their entire house on tour."

Childs, whose husband, Roland, will direct parking, said organizers begin work for the tour in the spring. "That's when we ask people if they will put their home on the tour. People have been very cooperative at opening their homes to the public," she said.

Two fairly new residents are eager to be on the tour -- Thomas and Freda Birchett of 3485 Uniontown Road and David and Patrece Bennett of 3481 Uniontown Road.

"I wanted to do it two years ago, but our house had just been on the previous tour," said Freda Birchett, a retired Baltimore Police Department employee. Birchett and her husband bought the house in 1993.

"We've completely restored the house to its original look. We've opened up the fireplace in the kitchen and restored the chestnut floor in the kitchen. We've exposed the brick in the upstairs bathroom," she said.

The Birchetts moved to Uniontown three years ago. Their 1875 house has been restored to its original Victorian look. "I feel like we've lived here all our lives," Freda Birchett said.

The Bennetts also moved into Uniontown in 1993 and began restoring their house right away, a room at a time.

"The first thing we did was to completely rewire the house," said Patrece Bennett. "It had the original 1920s wiring. Then the first room we did was the kitchen. The only thing it had was a sink."

She said the house, built in 1879, has eight rooms and a barn, smokehouse and outhouse.

Tour visitors will see a house that still is being restored, Bennett VTC said, including one room that is completely torn up.

Bennett and her husband wanted to be on the tour to give people a sense of history.

"The way we have been doing this, it feels like you're walking back into another century and I wanted to share that feeling," she said. "We wanted people to be able to see what can be done to an old house."

Bruce and Terri Hoover of 3450 Uniontown Road have converted an old garage into a hunter's den with beaded board exterior, heart-of-pine floors and raised panel shutters and doors.

"Our house was on the first tour in 1982," said Terri Hoover. "This year, we'll have the hunter's den open. Bruce did the entire thing himself."

Features have been added to this year's tour.

Home-baked cookies and hot cider will be served at 3459 Uniontown Road. That building was a wheelwright shop in the early 1800s and later housed a manufacturer of hats, an important part of the old industrial Uniontown.

Today, the building appears very much as it did during the 1940s, when Clarence Lockard operated an awning, window-shade and floor-covering business.

Visitors are asked to park in the designated parking lot rather than along the street. Parking will be available on the east end of town at the Devilbiss home, Taneytown Bank and Trust, the Lutheran church and Uniontown Elementary School.

Pub Date: 12/12/96

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