Christmas tour features homes and businesses of the 1880s

  • Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:43 p.m.

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
CHINA GROVE - James and Tamara Solomon had a choice: renovate the China Grove home they inherited or sell it. Ten years ago - in what became a more-than-two-year process - the couple gutted the entire home, and now you can see it.
The Solomons have opened up their home for the annual South Rowan Historical Society's Christmas Tour of Homes.
The tour is Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30, which includes three homes built in the 1800s. The newest part of the tour includes Goodman Farm Supply, built in 1881.
The cost also includes transportation on the tour and a country-style dinner catered by Debbie Suggs that will be served at Goodman's. This is the Historical Society's major fundraiser, and it benefits the China Grove Roller Mill Museum.
The tour will begin at the Roller Mill, located at 308 N. Main St. Those awaiting the tour can browse the Roller Mill.
The Solomon home is located at 914 S. Main St. and belonged to James' parents, C.H. and Mabel Solomon. When his parents died, the house was passed down to James, an only child.
"We put it back the way we wanted it to be," Tamara said of the renovation.
James and a friend who was a master carpenter did most of the work.
"We tore 100-plus years of dirt out of this place," Tamara said.
The Solomons have a lot of collections in the home including many items that belonged to their parents.
Tamara and James have collected red glassware, which can be found sitting on their table this Christmas season. The two also have several pieces of artwork from Salisbury native Bob Timberlake throughout the home.
The Solomons frequently visit The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where Tamara gets lots of decorating ideas.
The couple's grandchildren also helped decorate a banister at the home.
Doug and Jane McDonald have returned to the tour with their home, built in the mid-1880s by Patterson Mill. The home is located at 215 W. Ketchie St. The couple bought their home in 1976 from C.D. Hampton and his wife. The Hamptons only lived in the house for one year.
L.W. Safrit and his wife bought the house in 1903 from the mill.
The home originally was one story with four rooms - a bedroom, living room, dining room and kitchen. Around 1910, L.W. Safrit added two rooms upstairs.
In 1923, an indoor bathroom was added to the home. It was the first indoor bathroom on the street.
The same claw-foot tub placed in the bathroom is still in the house today and is one of Jane's favorite features of the home, she said.
In the same year, the back porch became the back hallway. The den and a new porch were built.
Other features that will be on display during the tour include a 130-year-old marble-topped wash stand that belonged to Jane's great-great-grandparents. The wash stand was refinished by Jane's father a number of years ago.
During the holidays, the family has a Christmas tree in the living room full of mostly handmade ornaments. Jane's mother made the satin beaded ornaments from jewelry and pearls that were given to her. Jane's grandmother made bird nests that sit within the tree branches.
Throughout the years the McDonalds' children and other relatives have made ornaments or given them ornaments to add to the Christmas tree. One of the treasures Jane cherishes is the tree skirt her mother made with a nativity scene on it. It took her mother years to design and finally make the skirt.
The final home on the tour belongs to Michael and Janet Dial and is located at 114 N. Harris St. The home, an American farmhouse, was built in 1881 by Andrew Jackson Sechler, the first mayor of China Grove. Sechler was also the postmaster. The home still retains most of its original woodwork, including the flooring in the upstairs. It was restored in 1985 and last renovated 12 years ago.
The Dials moved to the area in 1983.
"We tried to keep it as close to the original house as possible," Janet said.
This is the second time the couple's home has been on the tour.
New to the tour this year is a business. The organizers say they've only had houses on past tours but decided to make changes. Goodman Farm Supply was built in 1881, and except for minor repairs remains unchanged since that time. The store was started by brothers J. Elmer and Walter Ray Goodman.
The building housed the company store for Patterson Mill, which sold hats, clothing, shoes and caskets upstairs. Alan Goodman now co-owns the store with his father, Walter. Throughout the last 49 years, 20 family members have worked in the store.
The floors are original to the building as is the open balcony on the second floor. Throughout the years, Alan has created a teaching garden in the back of the store to teach new gardeners and school children about gardening.
When Tuscarora Mills was torn down, Alan acquired additional warehouses that sit near the back of the store. The warehouses have given him space to expand for storage.
The tour will end with dinner at what is being called Goodman's Gallery on Main Street. Goodman has transformed one of the warehouse rooms into a place for entertaining. The room will feature a large Christmas tree decorated with stars, snowballs of cotton and crocheted snowflakes. The snowflakes were handmade by original store owners Walter and Elmer's mother, Lottie Goodman.
For more information about tickets, contact Judy Haire at 704-425-5323 or email judyhaire@ctc.net .

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