Meeting up with old friends at a 'lived-in' house
October is a beautiful month in the South, with crisp, cool nights and warm fall days.
This kind of weather is perfect for weekend events such as the Autumn Jubilee at Dan Nicholas Park and the OctoberTour of historic homes in Salisbury.
This year, I had the opportunity to be a docent (tour guide) for the Morris house.
The Emma and Claude Morris house on West Bank Street, originally built in 1909 and later rebuilt around 1930 due to a fire, was bought by Shawn and Leah Campion last October in hopes of restoring it to its former glory. Working hard and steady, in just one year, they managed to turn this house into a showcase, not only preserving its history but making it comfortable for their young family as well.
As a docent, I was a little nervous at first but soon settled into learning the information Leah gave me about the rooms I was to show, which included a den as well as an office-sunroom area.
The previous owner had at one time turned this section of the house into an apartment, but these rooms now are used by the Campion family as a place to read, relax and play games. Off to the side of the den is a small bathroom, which includes the original sink and tub.
Everyone who saw the bathroom on the tour couldn’t get over how small it was. They were especially interested in the “tiny tub,” pulling the curtain back sometimes to take a look. I couldn’t help but get tickled when one visitor put everything into perspective by saying, “Even though the bathroom is small, it has everything you need.” That everything included a chandelier overhead.
People from far and wide came to the OctoberTour, learning about the event through advertisement, word of mouth or from past attendance.
Some of the ones who came through the Morris house were friends I hadn’t seen in years. I was as shocked to see them as they were to see me, with one of my friends saying, “You do this, too?” Although we only had a few minutes together, we still managed to get in “Hello,” and “How are you?”
It’s amazing how much info you can share in just a few minutes.
I had a lot of fun meeting and greeting people and even had several to say the Morris house was their favorite on the tour. Leah, pleased with the response, said, “I would be happy to do it again for the Historic Salisbury Foundation.” She was glad people liked the house as a “lived-in house” and that they could see themselves living there. She thought that was important.
Kristen Hodges, a friend who helped Leah organize the tour, said, “Houses like these are a living history. They are a great way to show respect for history, while at the same time creating your own.”
Although everyone worked hard to make the day a success, Leah was lucky to have Kristen because she made sure things ran smoothly, from explaining procedures to the docents, to checking on guests and their needs.
Have you ever had days that you wish would go on forever? My day as a docent was one of those for me.
I got up that morning, not knowing what was ahead or what would be expected, but because I was willing to step outside my comfort zone, I received much more than I gave.
The spirit of that day and the people I met reminded me of Mr. Rogers’ song, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Ask anyone who went on the October tour of homes. I’m sure they would agree.
Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Contact her at 704-278-4377.