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Holiday home tours offered this weekend

LAWRENCEVILLE - Holiday home tours have become traditions for cities in Gwinnett County the past few years. This holiday season the traditions will continue, and more traditions will begin as residents of Grayson, Lilburn and Norcross open their homes this weekend for tours.

Grayson

The city of Grayson invites guests to "Come Home for the Holidays" for its second annual tours of homes.

Five private residences and two historic sites will be open for guests this year.

"Whether this will be your first trip to Grayson or your 100th, you will get the sense of what our community is all about, a slower pace, neighbor helping neighbor, sharing treasured recipes and traditions, pride in our community and schools," said Barbara Hinkle, director of the Grayson Arts and History Center. "This is the history of Grayson, and we want to welcome you home."

Tours will be given from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and transportation to the homes will be provided. Tours include a stop at a café and sweets shop.

The Hamberger family will open their home at 911 Windsor Creek Drive to guests.

"The focal point of the house is the two-sided, stacked stone fireplace that opens to the vaulted family room with Brazilian cherry hardwood floors," Susan Hamberger said, "(and) the kitchen and keeping room with Tuscan decor is our favorite place to entertain."

Tickets for the tours are $20 and can be purchased at Grayson City Hall, 475 Grayson Parkway, or the Grayson Arts and History Center, 2070 Rosebud Road, where the tours will begin. Tickets will be sold until 4 p.m.

"The reason we wanted to be on the tour is to share our joy and happiness with other families in the Grayson area," Hamberger said. "Even though times are very difficult right now, we have so much to be thankful for in our lives. We believe if we could add some personal warmth and hope to someone else's life, we are truly living the spirit of Christmas."

Proceeds from Grayson's tours will benefit the Grayson Arts and History Center.

Lilburn

A part of the Lilburn Festival of Christmas and a first-time event for the city, six historic homes in Old Town Lilburn and the historic Wynne Russell House, which is owned by the city, will be open for tours from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Ticket booklets that include renderings and descriptions of the homes are available at Antiques in Old Town, Taylor Made Baskets and the Blue Rooster Cafe for $15. Parking for the walking tours is available at Lilburn City Hall, 76 Main St., and guests can visit the homes in any order.

Hugh Wilkerson and Rowann Sanders will open their home at 113 Main St. for tours. The 1,500-square-foot farm cottage has 11-foot ceilings and heart pine beaded board throughout.

"My home particularly is one of the least untouched homes (on the tour)," Wilkerson said. "It gives you more of a representation of the home in 1890 when it was built."

The remaining homes featured on the tours are:

· The Vinson home at 147 Railroad Ave.

· The Crist home at 127 Railroad Ave.

· The Bass home at 4781 Lula St.

· The Calhoun home at 185 Poplar St.

· The Brame home at 159 Poplar St.

· The Wynne Russell House at Wynne Way

Proceeds from the Lilburn home tours will benefit the Lilburn Cooperative Ministry and Gwinnett Partnership Against Domestic Violence.

Norcross

The doors to six Norcross residences will be open Saturday for the sixth annual Historic Norcross Holiday Home Tour.

Tours will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Parking, tickets and shuttles will be available at the Norcross First Baptist Church, 706 N. Peachtree St.

"There's live music in each home, which is an unusual and special touch," said Tixie Fowler, with the Norcross tours. "Flutists, harpists, pianists, vocalists, sometimes it's a solo performer, other homes will host a trio. We make it different in each home."

Carriage rides in the downtown area, photo opportunities with Santa and caroling have been added for this year's tours.

The candlelight portion will feature more than 2,500 luminaries lining the downtown sidewalks.

"We want this to be more than just a tour of homes, but also a tour of Historic Norcross, a whole experience," Fowler said. "Everyone who lives here is very proud of our community, and excited about any chance to share it."

SideBar: If you go

· What: "Come Home for the Holidays" 2008 Grayson tour of homes

· When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

· Where: Tours begin at the Grayson Art and History Center, 2070 Rosebud Road, Grayson

· Cost: $20

· For more information: Call 678-985-7775

· What: 2008 Norcross Tour of Homes

· When: Daytime tours will be given from 10 a.m. to

5 p.m. and candlelight tours will be offered from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday

· Where: Parking, tickets and shuttles will be available at the Norcross First Baptist Church, 706 N. Peachtree St.

· Cost: $17 until Nov. 30, $20 after that date

· What: Lilburn's Christmas Candlelight Tour of Historic Homes

· When: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday

· Where: Parking is at Lilburn City Hall, 76 Main St.

· Cost: $15

· For more information:

E-mail Judy Nash at jknash@bellsouth.net