Grayson, Norcross homes will open for holiday tours

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

GRAYSON -- Barbara Hinkle began decorating her home for the holidays in September.

After three months of work, the Grayson resident planned to make some last-minute additions Thursday night. The fresh floral arrangements expected to arrive this morning would be the finishing touch in one of the homes sure to be a highlight on the third annual Grayson Christmas Tour of Homes.

Guests entering the English-style country home will be greeted with one of 25 decorated Christmas trees throughout the house, which is filled with holiday decor. Hinkle used fresh, preserved botanicals in the floral decorations lining the railings of the stairway in the two-story foyer.

Hinkle, who is director of the Arts and History Center and is married to the city's mayor, Jim Hinkle, previously owned a Christmas shop -- S. Claus and Friends -- in Buckhead.

"I just love Christmas so I continued to decorate," she said. "It took a while, but it's fun."

One of the highlights inside the Hinkle home is the "German Room," which is filled with a collection of authentic Steinbach Nutcrackers. The Hinkles spent two years living in Germany and their son, Bob, was born there. The Christmas tree in the German Room is decorated with German ornaments.

Guests can tour the Hinkles' home, as well as the four other homes featured, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

About 20 miles away, the historic home at 498 Ridgecrest Drive in Norcross has also been decorated for the season in anticipation of the guests who will tour the home during the Historic Norcross Holiday Home Tour.

The Oakes House, which is owned by Tom and Julie Foster, was originally built in Lawrenceville and relocated to Norcross in the 1970s. The Fosters bought the home in 2007. Inside, tour guests will find antique family heirlooms throughout, including the antique zither hanging in the parlor, which Julie Foster's grandfather brought when he emigrated from Germany. A guest room is decorated with an old Singer sewing machine that belonged to her great-grandmother that is now used as a night stand, as well as her grandmother's hope chest and a porcelain tea set hand-painted by Tom Foster's great-grandmother.

One of the highlights of the Oakes House is the Fosters' youngest son's room in which a tree is decorated with model airplanes built by Tom's father, who was a member of the U.S. Navy. Black and white photos from his years of service are displayed, as well as Navy memorabilia.

Guests can tour the Oakes House and four other featured homes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Candlelight tours will be given from 6 to 9 p.m.

Proceeds from both the Grayson and Norcross tours will be used preserve the cities' histories.