Thursday, August 17, 2017  

Reedville Christmas
A Holiday Tour of Homes in Northumberland  

Betty Nuckols and Jude Kelly are the great-great granddaughters of Elijah Reed who founded the menhaden fishing industry in Reedville. Their home, the Reed House, is featured on Reedville’s Christmas House tour this year. They grew up in the family home on Main Street which was built in 1888.

While Christmas might still be a couple of months away, don’t tell Betty that. A talented artisan, she is already hard at work making special ornaments from old can labels which were part of the family-owned vegetable and pet food canning factories.

“Christmas was a special time all around town,” Jude remembers. “Parties, family gatherings, dinners of wild game that our Dads had just hunted. Oh and Nannie’s spiked eggnog, scalloped oysters…we always had a big pine Christmas tree in the bay window, cut down from the farm. It remained bare until Christmas Eve when Santa arrived and decorated and filled the stockings. Christmas was a traditional and magical time for us, and we’re so happy to open our home for this year’s tour.”

“Our annual Christmas on Cockrell’s Creek house tour not only raises money for the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum educational and preservation projects, but it really brings the community together during this festive season,” explained museum president Maureen Gillmer. “It takes over 250 volunteers to produce this two-day event. This includes the ladies from the Chesapeake Bay Garden Club who festively “green” all the houses, the hostesses in each house, the boat shuttle crews, and all the volunteers at the museum. And just about everyone in town will bake cookies, which we serve along with hot cider to warm everyone’s spirits.”

“The kids especially look forward to the arrival of Santa Claus on the Saturday morning of the tour weekend,” said Wanda Boley who heads up the Santa program for the museum and neighboring Bethany United Methodist Church. When they first spot Santa on the Elva C., the museum’s restored 1922 buyboat as she rounds the point and heads up the creek, you can hear the collective ahhhhh…”

Mary Frazer and Walt Keith moved into their new home just off Main Street in 2006. “We spent a lot of time looking at plans and designing our house,” said Walt. “We knew we wanted bright open spaces with a big kitchen and lots of room to entertain. We have a large group of friends we’ve met on sailing trips over the years, and now they all stop by to see us. We also wanted to connect the house to the magnificent water views right outside our windows, and that was the genesis of the Charleston-style double porch design.”

Interesting family heirlooms and items collected by Walt and Mary enliven the home. The tall-case clock in the foyer belonged to Mary’s great-grandfather Eben Frazer who was the mayor of Newark Delaware. There’s a small gray fabric mouse sitting on the ledge in front of the clock face. “My mother put it there years ago, and I’m upholding the tradition,” said Mary.

The other houses on the tour include the Miller home at Buzzards Point, an 1860s farmhouse revitalized with expansive additions; a new home designed and built by Bill Somers where the facade looks like a turn-of-the-century Reedville house, but the interior is wide open and very contemporary; the stunning Hunt home on Chesapeake Bay with a forever view to Tangier Island; and the Purser family compound next door built to be shared by their extended family. “The six architecturally diverse homes on this year’s tour vary in style and age, but each is rich in personality, reflecting their owners’ tastes and lifestyles,” said Gillmer.

Since 1999, Smith Point Sea Rescue, Capt. Buddy Sylvia, Capt. Wendell Haynie, and others have provided free harbor tours and a boat shuttle between the houses. This year the four houses on Cockrell’s Creek will be connected by the shuttle. “In the old days, people living on the Northern Neck’s creeks and rivers did much of their visiting by boat,” explained Haynie, a Reedville native. Our visitors always look forward to the boat ride and this year we’ll also be taking them by the old Morris-Fisher factory tall stack which was just restored this summer.”

Other special features include the museum’s perennially popular model train exhibit with carefully handcrafted scale models of historic buildings along the route through the villages of Reedville, Heathsville, Irvington and White Stone; the “Tablescapes” exhibit – festive room settings designed by area decorators; and new this year, “Santa’s Workshop” a unique gift-shopping opportunity featuring works provided by the many talented artisan members of the museum.

Tour Hours:
Saturday December 11th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday December 12th from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on tour days. For tickets and information call the museum at 804-453-6529 or visit online at www.rfmuseum.org.