House tours fill holiday weekends

The Baltimore Sun

In 1940, Bower Reeves built a dairy barn in rural Forest Hill that he and his son, John Reeves, used for decades.

After they stopped using the barn, it sat dormant for 10 years. Then in 1998, John Reeves and his wife, Pat, who were in the market for a new home, decided to restore the building and live in it.

"My husband knew the property well, and we couldn't decide where we wanted to live," said Pat Reeves, 69. "It just seemed like the thing to do. Now the barn is home."

The barn is one of several showpiece homes to be featured on three holiday home tours throughout the county.

The first is the AMC Harford County Chapter Holiday House Tour on Dec. 7. The tour includes 12 businesses and decorated homes in Bel Air, Fallston, Forest Hill, Churchville, Street, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the AMC Cancer Research Center in Denver.

The Reeves home is one of the most unusual on the tour. The three-story restored barn features four bedrooms, a great room, a fireplace, an enclosed elevator and floors made from original barn boards.

The decor includes a black-and-gold room; a green room with multicolored lights and snowmen; a lime-green television room; a pink-and-silver computer room; a green-red-and-white kitchen; a red-white-and-silver bedroom; and a room with fall colors that contains collections of reindeer and glass.

Each room has Christmas trees, ranging from small table trees to large full-size trees, highlighted with the Reeves' collections of angels, Old World Santas and Jim Shore figurines.

Pat Reeves said she also made about 20 wreaths that she has hung on every door in the house. Buckets containing candles will be arranged on the steps leading to the second floor, and poinsettias will be arranged on the steps leading up to the third floor.

To prepare for the home tour, she began decorating in September, she said. Although it's a lot of work, she said, she couldn't refuse to participate.

"I was on another tour before, and I was told that my house was the one that was the most asked-for to be repeated," she said. "But this might be my last year."

Vickie and Steve Arnold are decorating their brick rancher in Street for the tour. The Arnolds bought their three-bedroom home about 10 years ago. Vickie Arnold became involved with the tour because she works in an oncology office and sees the effect that cancer has on people every day, she said.

Her house will include 21 trees decorated with themes such as Disney, Barbie, Santa, NASCAR, Ravens, Gone With the Wind, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and breast cancer awareness.

Vickie Arnold puts up so many trees each year because as a child her mother decorated a silver aluminum tree, and she was envious of people who had green trees, she said.

"I decorate a silver tree each year because it brings back a lot of memories for me," she said. "But only one. The rest of my trees are green."

The Arnolds have decorated every room in the house, including the basement, she said.

"We change everything in the house over to Christmas during the holidays, even the shower curtains."

The second event, the 36th annual Candlelight Tour of Historic Havre de Grace, is scheduled Dec. 14. It is a tour of six historic and new homes never before on the tour, 10 businesses and five museums.

There are waterfront homes, condominiums and old Cape Cod houses. One home features a collection of more than 300 sterling silver Christmas tree ornaments and 300 pieces of Wedgwood.

Billee Smith and her husband, Michael, are opening their home for the Chesapeake Cancer Alliance's Christmas in Bulle Rock House Tour that will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20.

The tour is one of many cancer alliance fundraisers to benefit the Upper Chesapeake Center's Cancer LifeNet, a program that supports cancer patients and their families. The local alliance has pledged $100,000 a year for five years to support the program.

The Chesapeake Cancer Alliance tour is a walking and short driving tour of 11 homes in the Bulle Rock community. During the tour, the Harford Choral Society will provide strolling carolers.

"We wanted to offer a Williamsburg-like tour," said Laurie Manns Adolph, the coordinator for the tour. "Instead of driving all over the county, people can come and go to homes all in the same area. Our home tour is very Currier and Ives."

One of 11 houses on the tour, the Smiths' home, decorated by Billee Smith, an interior designer, is an eclectic mix, she said. In addition to elaborate window and wall treatments, the house will be decorated with about a dozen Christmas trees highlighted by Michael's collection of about 250 decoys.

One tree is covered with imitation snow and contains mini-decoys. Another is decorated with snowmen. A 9-foot tree is decorated in burgundy and gold and contains birds and fancy ribbon.

Her favorite tree is the one adorned with ornaments that her three sons made and collected over the years, she said.

"I usually put up about 10 Christmas trees in my house," Smith said. "I change the decorations every year. The only one that never changes is my sons' tree. It's my favorite. They are all grown now, and the tree has the ornaments that they made for us when they were little boys."

Smith is also hanging wreaths adorned with bows, and red, silver and gold balls. Lanterns with candles in them will be hung on the front porch.

"I want to decorate in an old-fashioned way," she said. "It will look like something you would see in Williamsburg."

The AMC Harford County Chapter Holiday House Tour will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 7. Information: 410-836-2061. The Candlelight Tour of Historic Havre de Grace will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14. Information: 410-939-5780. Chesapeake Cancer Alliance's Christmas in Bulle Rock House Tour will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20. Information: call 443-617-1220.

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