The Holiday Tour of Homes, sponsored by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, annually showcases some of Natchitoches’ most unique, interesting and historic homes and properties. A Living History Tours, Candlelight Tours and a one day Christmas For Children Tour highlight this year’s offerings. Tours this year include one home on Thursday, Dec. 6 and 13, two homes on the Candlelight tour Friday, Dec. 7 and 14, one home on Saturday, Dec. 8 and three structures Saturday, Dec. 8 and 15. Tickets are $20 per person/per day. The Christmas for Children Tour is Free.
Photos by Hannah Richardson
A Very Northwestern Christmas
This year features an added treat with a “Very Northwestern Christmas” tour planned for Dec. 6 and 13. This tour starts at the home of NSU President and Mrs. Chris Maggio. The NSU tour is from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on the two selected Thursdays. Visitors are invited to join the Maggios at the President’s home. They can walk past the three remaining columns of the Bullard Mansion, a symbol of the university. Built in 1832, the mansion was the site of the Louisiana State Normal School. Visitors are encouraged to watch for popup performances by the Creative and Performing Arts students. The Old President’s Home, built in 1927, now houses the Alumni Center. Directly behind the Alumni Center is Varnado Hall, reportedly one of the residencies of legendary ghost Isabella.
The Christmas by Candlelight Tour will be Friday, Dec. 7 and again Friday, December 14. Homes on the Candlelight Tour are Laureate House and Bayou Amulet House, both located on Poete Street. They will be open on both Fridays from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Laureate House was built in 1840 and contains a cellar that connects to Bayou Amulet. However, the tunnel is sealed with a brick entrance. The home was restored in the 1950s. The Bayou Amulet House now serves as a bed and breakfast. It was constructed in the 1850s. It offers five spacious and spectacular rooms, each with numerous amenities, including private bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs.
Living History Tour
There are three buildings included in the Living History Tour Dec. 8 and December 15. The tour hours are from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Stops on this tour include the headquarters of the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, the Cunningham Law firm. At this stop, visitors will hear about small business life in the 1800’s. A unique feature of this building, located at 550 Second Street, is the twin chimneys in the center of the building that served to heat both sides of the duplex office. This building housed five generations of lawyers since its construction in the 1860s. Also on this tour is the Trinity Episcopal Church, located directly across the street. Trinity Episcopal Church carries with it many memories and associations dating back to pre-Civil War days. It was the first non-Roman Catholic Church in Natchitoches and the third Episcopal Church in Louisiana. Work on the building began in 1857. However, the life of the congregation predates the building. On March 22, 1843, the Church was formally incorporated by act of the legislature, largely through the efforts of the “Fighting Bishop.” The building itself is of Gothic-Norman architecture. The exterior walls of masonry vary in thickness from 22 to 28 inches. Large laminated wood arches that resemble a wagon vault span the interior. All beams are tied directly into the brickwork. The wood flooring is of hand cut timber. A sturdy, buttressed bell tower gives added dignity to the main structure. The bell, said to be of one-third silver, was cast especially for this church. The windows behind the altar are the original ones; their diamond panes with the fleur de lis design, a popular design of the time, are the same kind as those of the Grace church, St. Francisville. Originally there were leaded stained-glass windows in the sidewalls; when these deteriorated, they were replaced with colored Florentine glass and then, in 1958, with the present stained-glass windows. Windows on the north side depict Christ’s miracles and those on the south, the parables. The third part of the Living History Tour is the Old Courthouse, located at the corner of Church and Second Streets. Construction began on it in 1896. The Old Courthouse, constructed in 1896, is an example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The architects designed the courthouse in the popular style with the building’s arched, recessed windows and the prominent center tower. The building was badly damaged by fire in 1933 and has been renovated three times. The first renovation occurred directly after the fire. During this renovation, the tower was lowered, the clock was removed and the roofline over the stairway was lowered. This radically changed the appearance of the building and, except for the clock; these changes have never been reversed. A second renovation took place in 1961, presumably to make the building more efficient to heat and cool. The ceilings were lowered and some of the rooms were divided. Also, aluminum and glass doors were installed. The final renovation took place in 1976. This was aimed at restoring the building to its original form, and reversed the changes made in 1961. Central heating, an elevator and three external clocks also were added.
Christmas for Children Tour
The Pruchomme’-Roquier House at 446 Rue Jefferson, will be available for tours Saturday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. This tour is free. This Save America’s Treasurers property was constructed around 1790. It is the only known two and one-half story bousillage structure on the North American continent. Cornhusk doll making, Christmas themed carnival games, performances by local groups, treats education and entertainment await visitors. The Service League of Natchitoches Inc. owns this home.