OctoberTour triples advance ticket sales for 47th event

Published 12:10 am Sunday, October 9, 2022

SALISBURY — Taking a peek inside the elegant historic homes in the city is a delight for many each year during the Historic Salisbury Foundation’s annual tour of homes, but this year, sales of advance tickets tripled, according to the executive director of the foundation.

There were 11 locations on this year’s tour and it is likely the addition of the Empire Hotel also added a few new tourists, said Director Kimberly Stieg. In addition, the first Brewfest at Bell Tower Green, which the city hopes to make an annual event, offered combined tickets to both events, and Stieg said about one fourth of Brewfest tickets were the combination ones.

This year’s event marks two anniversaries for the foundation as well. The first is one for the foundation itself — it was formed 50 years ago after the First Presbyterian Church was taken down and the bell tower was threatened.

Rosalie Laughlin, whose mother was an original foundation member, said founder Ed Clement stepped in to try to save the tower, “and he knew that if he got several of Salisbury’s first ladies to join him, it would be successful.” Laughlin served her own time on the foundation, has offered her own home on recent tours, and was one of the docents at Saturday’s event.

The second is the 200th anniversary of the Dr. Josephus Hall House, which was the first property the foundation actually purchased for preservation. Descendants of Hall were on hand Friday night for a celebratory event.

In addition to tours of the historic sites, which ran all Saturday aftern0on (and is available today via BikeTober, a bicycling tour of the exterior of the sites, sponsored by The Pedal Factory), the Bank Street Festival ran Saturday afternoon and continues today at Hall House Museum.

The full list of sites included The Hall House on S. Jackson Street; William Murdoch House on W. Bank Street; John Knox House on W. Bank Street; Thomas T. Maxwell House on W. Horah Street; Torrence-Corners House on S. Jackson Street; Franklin Smith Jr. House on S. Fulton Street; Empire Hotel on S. Main Street; Bell Block Building on S. Main Street; St. John’s Lutheran Church on W. Innes Street; and the Holshouser-Beaver House and L.G. Hines House, both available virtually.

At the Empire hotel, a documentary team was on hand interviewing Lummie Jo Honeycutt, a former Salisbury resident who took dance lessons as a child in the ballroom of the hotel.

“I am so excited about what they are doing to bring it back,” she said. “I hope I live long enough to see it when it is complete.”

Stieg said she and other members of the foundation have been overwhelmed by the level of support. Tickets for a Patron’s Dinner Saturday night sold out so fast that there were two waiting lists. Initially they thought they could accommodate “about 275,” she said. “But we spent some time reworking things and talking with the caterer, and we have been able to get a total of 350 situated.”

She said there always has to be a cut-off point, but she was sure they could have sold 450 tickets easily, and that’s something to keep in mind for next year.

“It certainly shows the level of support our patrons have for what we are trying to accomplish and preserve,” she said.

Former foundation member John Paul said he has been coming on the tour off and on for 32 years and he still enjoys every minute.

“I love old things,” he laughed, “and this year there were a few new locations, so I’m glad to be back.”