GOLD HILL — Not too long ago, what is now the Indigo Tea House was merely an empty residence sitting on a farm in Mount Pleasant.
“Cows were walking through it,” said Arlene Kessler.
Kessler chose the shop to be part of the second annual Gold Hill Historical Home Tour because of its prime location in the center of the village.
‘It is always very quaint,” she said. “People tend to gravitate to the tea house because it’s so comforting and relaxing.”
Local resident Don Hekhuis purchased the house, which was built in the 1920s, about 12 years ago. It had to be split into two parts to make the move to Gold Hill.
After arriving in the historic village, the structure was transformed from its dilapidated state into a charming retail space.
Linda and Billy Dean started leasing the building almost two years ago. The couple sells 80 varieties of tea ranging from common chai varieties to obscure rooibos selections.
They have created a haven for people to sit down with a cup of tea and escape.
“We wanted to have someplace that was inviting and warm where people could relax,” Linda Dean said. “The world is a crazy place and in Gold Hill you definitely step back in time.”
Those who enter the house will quickly smell the aroma of freshly-brewed tea wafting throughout the air.
A crackling fire warms the seating area, which includes two cozy chairs and a sofa that sits beside a large Christmas tree.
Linda said visitors to her tea house can expect a cozy atmosphere anytime of year, but it’s even more inviting now.
“The only thing we did different for the home tour was just add Christmas touches,” she said.
Although the Deans use the space strictly for business, it has the charm of a well-lived in home.
The Indigo Tea House is one of seven homes on the tour, which includes houses built between 1840 and 1924.
The Artz-Tester home, owned by Dustin Artz and Audrey Tester, is the oldest on the tour at 172 years old.
The house, which sits at the corner of Old Beatty Ford and St. Stephens Church roads, has had about four additions over the years.
At 88 years old, the Jarrett home is the newest structure on the tour. Rick and Jane Jarrett purchased the house, located about a mile from the village, in 2011.
Owners have retained the house’s character throughout the years, including most of the original beadboard paneling on the walls. It is located at the corner of U.S 52 and Old Beatty Ford Road.
Kessler said she tried to find unique homes for this year’s tour. The only returning stop is Gold Hill United Methodist Church.
“We wanted to mix it up, but make sure the homes weren’t too far apart,” she said.
Three of the stops are close to U.S. 52, a short distance from the village. A trolley will provide transportation free of charge during the tour.
Kessler said the Gold Hill Merchants Association decided to start a home tour two years ago in hopes of drawing more people to the village.
“One of the things that we’re trying to promote is the quaintness, history and unique shopping that is here,” she said. “It’s amazing how may people live close by and have never been here.”
The entire village has been outfitted in white lights and each shop has added their own special Christmas decor.
“It is a sight in itself,” Kessler said. “People will be driving along and out of nowhere come across this village that is completely lit up.”
Each home on the tour will guide visitors to the front door with rows of old-fashioned oil lamps.
The home tour will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets are $12. They can be purchased from Gold Hill merchants or by calling 704-724-4998. Admission is free for children under the age of six.
Proceeds from the tour benefit the Gold Hill Merchants Association to host future events and pay for upkeep throughout the village.
“We’re not a state-funded location, all of money is privately raised,” Kessler said.
A special dinner, including food that would have been served during the 1800s, will be prepared at The Stamp Mill Cafe that night. Kessler said people who participate in the tour can present their ticket for a free wine or beer tasting.
The home tour tickets also gives participants a chance to save at stores throughout the village.
“Each merchant will have a special discount,” Kessler said.
Gold Hill will also hold its annual Christmas in the Village celebration Friday and Saturday.
Santa Claus will visit the village from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. He’ll park his sled at River Pines.
Linda Dean said Gold Hill offers a unique atmosphere to enjoy the Christmas season.
“The village really embodies the wonder and magic of Christmas,” she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.