Candlelight Tour of Homes

Annual holiday home tour to feature
11 public, private sites

Duckworths to show off their Florida themed décor

(November 2016) – Get invited into the Duckworth Home in Madison, Ind., any time of the year, and you will think you have been transported to coastal Florida. Beach colors adorn the walls, and there are wooden fish and fish nets everywhere. It will be no exception when their home is on the Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes, scheduled for Nov. 25-26 and Dec. 2-3.

Nights Before Christmas
Candlelight Tour of Homes

• Dates: Nov. 25-26; Dec. 2-3 in Madison, Ind.
• Tour Times: 5-9 p.m. Fridays; 3-9 p.m. Saturdays
• Tickets: $15 pre-sale through Nov. 11; then $20 after for adults. Children ages 5-12 are $5. Available at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St., Madison, Ind., and online.
• Organizing Sponsor: VisitMadison Inc.
• Information and Tickets: (812) 265-2956 or
1-800-559-2956. www.NightsBeforeChristmas.com

Private Homes:
• The Spear Home, 952 W. Second St. (owners Briand and Kristie Spear)
• The Tyree Home, 424 St. Michaels Ave. (owners Carl Tyree and Cindy Sevier)
• The Duckworth Home, 423 E. Third St. (owners Gary and Suzan Duckworth)
• The Boyd Home, 111 E. Third St. (owner Jarrett Boyd)
• The Davis Home, 415 W. Main St. (owners John and Linda Davis)

Public Sites:
• The Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, 511 W. First St.
• Masonic Schofield House, 217 W. Second St.
• Jefferson County History Center, 615 W. First St.
• Trinity United Methodist Church, 412 W. Main St.
• Dr. William Hutchings Office Hospital & Annex, 120 W. Third St. (owner: Historic Madison Inc.)

Hospitality Sites:
• River Terrace Health Campus, 120 Presbyterian Ave.
• The Sweeter Life, 103 E. Main St., Madison
• Siefert Short Folk Art and Doll Museum, 113 E. Third St.
• Blush on Main, 113 W. Main St.
• The Great Cookie Caper will be held at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center from 4-8 p.m. Fridays and 2-8 p.m. Saturdays (while supplies last).
• A Children’s Gingerbread House Workshop will be held from 10:30 a.m. - noon, and from 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Jefferson County History Center, 615 W. First St. Gingerbread Houses will be on display during the home tour. Fee $7 each. Reserve by Nov. 16 at (812) 265-2335.
• An Adult Gingerbread Workshop will be held from 6:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Jefferson County History Center. Enjoy a creative night including sips and nibbles. Fee $45 per person plus $7 per house. Reserve by Nov. 16 at (812) 265-2335.

Tour tickets are $15 for adults and
$5 for children ages 5-12.

The tour is organized each year by VisitMadison Inc. Tour hours are 5-9 p.m. Fridays and 3-9 p.m. Saturdays. No Sunday tours.
Gary and Suzan Duckworth have two main Christmas trees as the center points of their holiday decorations.
“We have a travel tree with ornaments we brought back from various travels other than coastal,” said Suzan. There are ornaments from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania Mexico and Aruba. The tree in the living room is covered with ornaments from our coastal travels, mostly Florida.
Their Florida ornaments include Cape San Blas, Fla., which is located on the panhandle.
“Not many people know about it,” Suzan said. “It is a beautiful state park between Mexico Beach and Apalachicola and is very quiet. We also have an ornament from Rosemary Beach. This is our way to have a memory collection that doesn’t need to stay out year-round.”
There is a plan behind their decorations.
“The outside of our house fits the Madison historical theme. It is federal architecture, but inside it reflects us,” she said. “It is like being on vacation year-round.”
Each Christmas, they bring out all their travel memorabilia.
“We enjoy bringing it out because it helps us remember our trips to various parts of the United States,” she said.
This is not the first time the Duckworths have had a home on the Christmas tour.
“I had one on the tour about 25 years ago,” Suzan said. “It was one  or two years after the tour began.
I remember how hectic it is to stay ready for visitors, but when people come through the house, it is nice to get positive feedback on how nice it is to live in a historic town.”
The Nights Tour has a 35-year history. VisitMadison Inc. Group Tour Coordinator Marci Jones took over as coordinator of the tour 13 years ago.
“The Visitors Center started it in 1994,” Jones said. “It was originally the Visitor’s Council. I used to go on the tour all the time. It was a natural progression for me to become coordinator.”
When the Nights Tour started, it was a fundraiser for the local historical sites.

Photos by John Sheckler

Suzan and Gary Duckworth decorate their home (pictured below) for the home tour.

“People who operated the Masonic Schofield House approached the Lanier Mansion in the ’90s. That was part of the seed from which the Historical Society and Historic Madison Inc. were born. Visitor’s Council was a group of local citizens that worked to promote tourism before the Visitors Center was established.”
Before those groups were formed, historic sites operated independently, with the Schofield House as the lead.
“All they did, originally, was offer tours of the historic sites,” said Jones. “Then private homes were added. It has been a challenge to find homes. There have been 69 homes on the tour since 2004.”
Jones says she enjoys her work. “When I go out and see all the people enjoying the tour, it is a nice feeling to know I helped,” she said. “I work hard to have different homes so people don’t see the same homes every year.”
The Nights Tour reflects the historical essence of Madison, Jones said.
“We don’t have many antiques, except one piece from Gary’s great-great-grandfather,” said Suzan Duckworth. “And we have some antique stone ware.”
The Duckworth house was built in the early 1840s. It is in a group of three federal homes, but is the most ornate because of cornices over the windows. The cornices were added a few years after the original construction.
“At one time, this was a boarding house,” Suzan explained. “The original structure was four rooms. The back part was added sometime around the turn of the century (1900). The lady next door is around 80 and lived there all her life. She told us about how the house changed over the years.”
The Duckworths have other memorabilia concerning the history of the house.
“We have a letter brought to us by someone from the VFW. It was from a person who lived here in the 1940s. He served in World War II. The letter was from Washington, D.C., complimenting him for work he had done.”
Suzan has older memories of historic Madison.
“When I was 4, that was when they started to modernize the town,” she said. “It was the Sesquicentennial, and my dad built floats for the parade. It was memorable for me. I remember the long dresses and the long beards on the men. Our ceilings are a color called paint blue, which can be a range of different blue. It is said to drive away evil spirits. On a porch, it confuses insects. They think it is the sky and won’t build nests.”
Suzan continued, “Gary and I have a 1988 copy of colonial homes featuring the homes of Madison. You can see how much different they were then, especially the Lanier Mansion.”
Another popular event connected to the Christmas Tour of Homes will be the sixth annual “Great Cookie Caper!” It is held at Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St. and offers a wide selection of homemade cookies and sweet treats for sale. Each year the Christmas tour donates all proceeds to a local charitable organization.
“My friends and I gather and bake cookies,” said Jones. “We provide 150 dozen each weekend.
The cookies are for sale at the Visitor Center. Since its inception, the Cookie Caper, in conjunction with “Nights,” has raised more than $10,000. Past beneficiaries include Lide White Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, the Jefferson County Animal Shelter, and the Sunshine Fund for Huntington’s disease. This year’s sales will benefit Southeastern Indiana Voices for Children.”
The bakers all donate the material. Anyone can donate cookies or sweet treats, but they must be homemade. Cookies can be purchased by the box for $6, or $12 for three dozen. Individual cookies are three for $1.

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