Friday, July 21, 2017  

Historic Urbanna Christmas House Tour


Once again Christmas will be weaving its magic in the small coastal town of Urbanna. Wrapped up in the holiday season with all the glow and excitement of the holidays, Urbanna has become a “must see” part of your holiday tradition once again. Streets have wonderful, exciting decorations, boats on lamp posts, Christmas music playing, people laughing, shops filled with gifts just waiting to be shared and hearts overflowing with peace, joy and love. There may even be a horse and carriage.
This year the Historic Urbanna Christmas House Tour will be even more exciting 
with new, unique decorations highlighting this very special season. You will be taken back to that small town Christmas joy. Lamp posts will be decorated, shop windows 
will be brimming with exciting gift ideas and restaurants will be ready to warm your body and tempt your palates. And just in case you are too stuffed to drive home -The Inn and B&B’s will be happy to roll out their welcome mats. Come to town on Friday, December 4th for a fashion show and brunch at Historic Lansdowne in the center of town. Grab a special outfit for the Holidays to take home with you from one of the shops. 
We even have shops for men’s clothing and accessories. All purchases from the fashion show will be offered for a 10% discount that day. Tickets are $45 for both the fashion show and tour on Saturday. Get a sneak peek at the decorations in this beautiful, stately landmark and start falling into the magic of the season. Tickets for Saturday only are $25 and the hours are 10am until 4pm.
Then get ready for the annual Christmas Parade beginning at 7pm. Food, hot dogs, hamburgers and barbeque will be available at the firehouse beginning at 5pm. Floats decorated by businesses, clubs, groups and individuals will all be here. You will never see a Christmas Parade given with more love than this one as each year more floats are decorated, more tiny feet are marching and more faces light up when Santa comes through town.
James Mills Scottish Factor Store will be open and decorated and displaying the recently renovated “John Mitchell Map”. John Mitchell was the local doctor in Urbanna from 
1734 to 1745. He was known as the man who later in his life made the “Map of the British and French Dominion” which is often considered the most important map in American History. The building will be decorated for the holidays, and you will 
be so glad that you trekked up the hill to see this piece of history in town.

Hewick Cottage

The tour begins at Urbanna Methodist Church where warm cider and cookies will be offered. Delicious box lunches are available for purchase this year. Downtown Urbanna restaurants will be open with specials and a variety of dining opportunities including fresh seafood and oysters. This year, the newly remodeled arts and crafts cottage across from the Bethpage Camp-Resort entrance will be open for visitors. The charming Hewick Cottage was brought to West Point on a train from Chicago in 1902. The owner, Walt Hurley, has restored the fine details of the cottage with appliances and furnishings that reflect the time period, down to a tin bathroom. Urbanna author and historian, Larry Chowning, will be signing his latest book inside and will answer questions about Middlesex County. Tour guests will experience unique decorating ideas for quaint homes that can be used for the holidays and all throughout the year.


Lansdowne, located in the heart of town, and currently owned by Col. and Mrs. A.B. Gravitt, is a constant work of love and restoration. This historic home was built around 1740 and is one of the finest examples of formal homes in Virginia during that period. There are eight fireplaces and two are back to back corner fireplaces. Arthur Lee is buried in the cemetery behind the home. The Gravitts have added an addition on the backside of the house and the new kitchen, master bedroom and bath. There is a ghost who shares the house with the Gravitts, and you will hear more about him during the tour.

The Historic Middlesex County Courthouse

The Historic Middlesex County Courthouse was built in 1748 as the second courthouse to serve Middlesex County and was in use until the seat of county government was moved to Saluda in 1852. In 1948, Christ Church deeded the building to the Middlesex Woman’s Club. During the House Tour, members of the Woman’s Club will display ‘tablescapes’ - a single place setting of China, flatware and glasses along with a centerpiece arranged for a holiday meal. Each one is unique and creative.
The remainder of the homes can be found in Kilmer’s Point. The bus will take you down Remlik Road (spelled backwards, it’s Kilmer) to see the three distinctive homes on the Rappahannock River and Robinson’s Creek. These three homes are open for the first time. On a clear day, you can see the Norris Bridge from two of the homes and the third home has a little ‘wild life sanctuary’ of its very own on the creek.

The Sledd House

The home of Melinda and Bob Sledd, at first glance, could be a stately historic residence. This home was built in 1993 by Gordon Robins for the James Ward family and purchased in 2001 by the current owners. In 2008, the Sledds knocked out a kitchen wall and totally remodeled the current kitchen. The original living room is now the pool hall. The staircase is 
large and wide and opens up to a comfortable upstairs sitting room. There are five bedrooms and lots of bathrooms. The Sledd family collects sleds for Christmas and will have lots of these on display. The yard is large and beautifully landscaped.

The Rao House

The second home on tour in Kilmer’s Point is the home of Rebecca and Chuck Rao. Originally built in the 80s by 
Tom Williamson and built on the point side of the creek and river, it was chosen for its constant breeze and 270-degree panoramic view of the Rappahannock. A white frame, modern version of a Victorian farmhouse from the outside the home looks very traditional, and it is breathtaking when you walk inside. The library-den is paneled in Honduran mahogany and is more traditional than the rest of the house. Architect George Kennedy designed the house from plans of a Connecticut river home. The highlight of the house is the helix staircase which appears to float upward from the living room. Furniture can be moved upstairs during a flood by removing railing along the atrium.

The Houser House

The third home on the tour is the home of Karen and Mark Houser. The Housers had a home in St. Maarten for many years but they decided to look for a river home. Mark is a contractor who has done renovations on the house, purchased just 4 1/2 years ago. Karen is the decorator. The fireplace and the furnishings in the open center room make you want to slip off your shoes and grab a glass of wine. There is an antique ice box, used as a bar, which appears to have ‘hair’ as part of the insulation. The wonderful guest quarters above the garage makes you feel as if you are on a boat. You can often find a group of friends gathered around the outdoor firepit enjoying the view. Great people who enjoy the relaxation of the river have made a wonderful ‘harbor’ for everyone.
Tickets for the fashion show, brunch and sneak preview of Lansdowne on Friday are $45 and this includes the tour on Saturday. Shuttle buses will run from the church to the tour locations so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery. Parking will be available at the church on Marston Street. 

Tickets are $25 for the tour on Saturday and are available at the following locations:
Urbanna: Lowe Tide, Cyndy’s Bynn, Make Thyme, R.S. Bristow.
LOCUST HILL: River Birch Gifts.
HARTFIELD: Wilton Cottage and 
Garden Shop.
KILMARNOCK: Wild Bunch and 
GLOUCESTER: Wilton Cottage
RICHMOND: 5807 Patterson Boutique  
For more information please check the website:
www.urbanna.com or you may phone 804-758-2613.