Historic Homes Feature On Harwich Garden Club Holiday Tour

By: Debra Lawless

Topics: Holidays , Community events

A festively decorated room in one of the homes on the Garden Club of Harwich holiday tour.

HARWICH – Want to get into the holiday spirit early and at the same time find some inspiration for your own decorating?

The Garden Club of Harwich’s Holiday House Tour on Dec. 1 – a tour of five beautifully-decorated houses and the South Harwich Meeting House — might be just the ticket.

Also, “this year as something new and different we’re having a mini-boutique,” says club member Dottie Miller. Garden Club members will sell decorated wreaths, birdhouses and more.

Club member Joanne Duros, whose antique Cape in Harwich Center is on the tour, was inspired to finish a room in her house as she prepared for the tour. What would have been the traditional front parlor, “where you entertained the minister,” as Duros says, was painted an egg yolk yellow until Duros painted it white. In furnishing the room, she bought an antique mantel from Paris and many of the room’s furnishings in an antique shop in Dennis. Duros and her husband bought the 1850 house three years ago, and this is the first time they have lived in an old house.

“We decorate for Christmas, so why not?” she said about opening her entire house for the tour. “We wanted to share our holiday joy.” As well as the decorated house, which features twinkling lights, Christmas trees, New England patchwork quilts, hand-knit stockings and a hand-carved tabletop nativity scene, Duros will light the fire pit in her yard and, as a special treat, display a hand-made “pixie twig” woodland village in the post-and-beam barn that doubles as a guest cottage. The charming “pixie twig village” is populated with “weefolk” and fairy furniture.

The five houses on the tour date from the 1840s up to 1945. Most of the older houses have been “remodeled, renovated or restored,” Miller says. One house is known as “the Howard Johnson house” because Howard Johnson, the man who founded the eponymous chain, was a frequent visitor to the house. “That’s a nice addition to the story.”

The “Howard Johnson house” was built in 1945 for Mayor Burgess of Quincy who was a close friend of Johnson. The house’s rose gardens were feature in the New York Times in 1972. The house’s traditional interior has been extensively renovated with award-winning eclectic designs. The kitchen floor is stunning.

Here are the three additional houses:

A remodeled house in West Harwich is on a secluded cul-de-sac. The spacious front porch is decorated with traditional apples, pinecones and garlands. The interior is decorated with contemporary touches of silver and gold combined with classic pieces for a stunning effect.

Two houses are in the heart of Harwich Port. The first is a pre-Civil War captain’s house with a large remodeled kitchen and nautical rope details. The house’s sun-filled living area has a cathedral ceiling that accommodates a tall Christmas tree, while the front parlor has its original marbled-faced fireplace and hearth.

The second is an antique farmhouse built in 1940 called “Many Doors.” Although the house has been renovated, the core of the house remains unchanged and the number of doors has not diminished. The home features cozy rooms with numerous treasures and artwork, some by local artists, antique boxes, toys and rustic kitchenware. The holiday décor features uniquely-decorated tabletop trees and wonderful evergreen arrangements.

Finally, the South Harwich Meeting House, built in 1836 at 270-260 Chatham Rd. was built by Harwich fishermen and skippers operating out of the Deep Hole Wharf. The property was lovingly restored over the past 13 years. In 1984 it, along with the surrounding cemetery, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. As a bonus, this is where the mini-boutique Santa’s Workshop will be held. Hand-made arrangements, wreaths and crafts will be sold. Complimentary refreshments will be available. Public restrooms are also available.

Addresses of the homes and a map will be included with the ticket. It is recommended that you wear sensible shoes; the event is not recommended for children under 5. Two of the houses are near parking lots that can be used for the event. Parking attendants will assist visitors in other locations.

Funds raised will go toward garden club programs. The garden club, which has over 150 members, maintains 19 gardens in Harwich. The club also beautifies Harwich Port with over 50 four-foot-square black cube planters along the streetscape.

Other projects include brightening nursing facilities with bouquets of fresh flowers and annual scholarships for young people. The club was founded in 1932 by 25 women who loved to garden. Today, the group has the same mission: to stimulate interest in gardening and horticulture and to beautify Harwich through education, conservation and cooperation with civic authorities.

Tickets for the tour on Saturday, Dec. 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. are available at gardenclubofharwich.org or at the following Harwich businesses: Sativa, The Grey House, Hunters Ladies Boutique, Port-O-Call, the Potted Geranium and New England Gardens. Tickets are $35 in advance; $40 on the day of the tour.