Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 9, 2012

Hundreds flock to Bramwell’s Christmas Tour of Homes

BRAMWELL — A 29-year tradition continued Saturday evening in Bramwell as the community welcomed guests from the two Carolinas, the two Virginias, Ohio, Kentucky and even as far away as North Dakota for the Christmas Tour of Homes.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Betty Goins responded after learning that a visitor with a North Dakota license plate was parked on Main Street. “We have visitors from as far away as Winston-Salem, N.C., Parkersburg, several cities in Ohio and everywhere. I think they all seem so thankful that the people who live here open their homes so visitors can tour and visit.”

Five homes including the E.S. Baker House, the Perry House, the Walker House, the Myers House, and the Hewitt House along with the famous Bank of Bramwell, the Bramwell Presbyterian Church, four downtown shops, including the Corner Shop & Bryant/Newbold Pharmacy, the Bramwell Café, the Blue Moon Gift Shop and the Bramwell Mini-Mall as well as the hospitality room at the Bramwell Depot, were all open for visitors.

“The Bramwell Garden Club started these home tours in 1983,” Goins said. “Those ladies thought it would be a fundraising activity to support club projects. The Bramwell Theatre Corp., coordinates the tours now, but many people join in as volunteers. The Bramwell Volunteer Fire Department lights our luminaries, the town is involved and the Coal Heritage Highway Authority has a hospitality room at the depot. Everyone works together to make this a success.”

By 5:15 p.m., 333 people had signed up for the tour. “I only had 400 tickets printed this year,” Goins said. “I hope we have enough.”

 Autumn Spangler, a sixth-grade student at Bluefield Middle School, volunteered to serve as a greeter at the Hewitt House, now owned by Harold and Rhonda Brown. This was her first time as a tour volunteer for a Bramwell tour, but she knows the history of the town.

“I did a social studies project on Bramwell when I was at Bluewell Elementary School,” Spangler said. “I like how all the houses are built and the way people have kept them the way they were.”

Mike and Debbie Werle moved from Roanoke, Va., to Bluefield, Va., in February. “Living in Roanoke, we usually went to several places as part of our holiday tradition. We saw a sign for this tour at the end of Bland Street (in Bluefield) and thought it might be something we would like to see,” Mike Werle said.

“The Christmas tour caught our attention,” Debbie Werle said.

The choir from the Deliverance Temple Church in Brushfork walked throughout Bramwell singing a variety of Christmas carols as they strolled. By 5 p.m.

“We decided to keep cars off of Main Street this year so the choir would have more room,” Bramwell Mayor Louise Stoker said as she directed traffic away from Main Street where it intersects with North and South River Street.

“This tradition started as part of the centennial celebration of the Pocahontas coalfields, and it still brings people to Bramwell,” Stoker said. “Some come for the first time, but others return and make this tour part of their Christmas tradition.”

The Bramwell Theatre Corp., will host its 2013 Spring Tour of Homes on May 11, 2013, a free concert by the Emeralds at a date to be announced, performances of “Smoke on the Mountains” July 25-28, and Aug. 2-4, 2013, and the next Christmas Tour of Homes on Dec. 14, 2013.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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