Danville Historical Society’s 47th Annual Holiday Tour will showcase nine “Architectural Wonders of Danville.” The tour this year will take place on Saturday, December 7th, from 11 am until 5 pm, and will feature five houses, three museums, and a church.
The Sutherlin Mansion, home of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, will of course be a part of the tour, as it is every year, as will be the Langhorne House Museum, birthplace of Lady Astor and her sister, the original Gibson Girl, Irene Langhorne Gibson. Rounding out the museums will be the new Danville Fire Department Headquarters and Museum. Here visitors can see how construction of the new building incorporated the architectural and landscaping details of that which stood before it, namely Danville Lumber Mill, an institution that existed in Danville for over a hundred years, and which was the major contributor, materially and ideationally, to so many of Danville’s finest buildings. The Fire Department Headquarters’ glass-box museum, which protrudes from the main structure of the building, provides a unique look into the history of firefighting in Danville while at the same time engaging the community it serves.
As usual, Ascension Lutheran Church will be on the tour. While the building, designed by architect Donald Evans, is significant, it’s the tradition that was born here and which has now spread worldwide that the folks of Ascension would like to share with the community. The Chrismon Tree was born here in 1957 when Frances Kipps Spencer took on the task of decorating the church’s Christmas tree. Making the ornaments by hand, Mrs. Spencer translated the “chrisma” designs, symbols and messages used by the early Christians to pass along their message, onto the ornaments, thus creating something both unique and uniquely significant to both the Church here and to Christians the world over.
Of the homes featured this year on the tour are the Spangler House at 444 Downing Drive, built by locally and nationally renowned architect Edward Loewenstein. His daughter, Jane Levy, will be a docent at this site, representing her father’s work. The William H. Carter house at 163 Hawthorne Drive was among the first built in the Forrest Hills Development. It was constructed around 1928 for American National Bank’s first trust officer, William H. Carter. The Tuggle House at 127 Westmoreland Court is one of several in this city built by the architect J. Bryant Heard who was also influential in the design and construction of the Wiseman House at 842 Main Street. Three generations of Wiseman doctors lived here before the home was taken over by the Red Cross.
Also included on the tour this year are the newly refurbished and repurposed Knitting Mill Lofts at 523-525 Lynn Street. Here you’ll see how historic architectural elements like hopper-style windows, roughly hewn timber framing have been incorporated into modern living spaces. The remnants of freight elevators have also been creatively incorporated into the space which has lately been converted into first-floor retail and restaurant space, with one-, two-, and three-bedroom residential units on the upper floors. Modern amenities include a pool and lounge area in what was formerly the roof top dye house.
Advance tickets for the event can be found at the Gingerbread House, Karen’s Hallmark, Rippe’s, and Vintages by the Dan. Advance tickets are also available online at Eventbrite. The price for Advance tickets is $20.
Tickets may also be purchased on the day of the event for $25 at any of the three museums.