Where to find holiday home tours


Your guide to seven metro Atlanta holiday home tours. Put on comfortable walking shoes and take note of which tours require donning tour-provided booties when going inside the homes.

Decatur Holiday Candlelight Tour of Homes

An evening tour of seven private homes in the Sycamore Historic District, Decatur’s original main thoroughfare.

5:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7

Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at door. Children 10 and under, free. Advance tickets may be purchased at Seventeen Steps, the Decatur Visitors Center, Oakhurst Market and online.

Information: www.decaturtourofhomes.com

The seven homes on tour include a 1904 two-story home reported to be constructed from Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog plans and components, a 1931 Tudor renovated in 2007, a 1920s bungalow with an upstairs addition, an apartment in a 1930s apartment building and a 1970s townhome renovated in 2008. Tour-goers are invited to visit the newly renovated Decatur Recreation Center and Sq/Ft, a Decatur Square boutique that received a 2013 Decatur Design Award.

Getting around in style: ATL-Cruzers will provide complimentary electric car shuttles.

Booties required? No.

Roswell 1850s Heirloom Holidays

A daytime tour of eight historic homes, most built in the 1840s and 1850s. Also includes the historic sanctuary of Roswell Presbyterian Church.

11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 7

Tickets: $30 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the Roswell Visitors Center, The Chandlery, Barrington Hall, Bulloch Hall, Smith Plantation and the Roswell Historical Society.

Information: www.roswellheirloomholidays.com or 770-640-3253

Each home on this tour has a distinct story to tell. In addition to Bulloch Hall, Barrington Hall and the Smith Plantation, which are open all year around, the tour includes an 1850s duplex, a mill worker’s apartment that once housed Roswell’s first public library and the manor house of a sorghum, corn and wheat plantation. There are lots of activities for children. The Teaching Museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There’ll be a decorated tree, a display of children’s toys from the 1850s and a chance to create an ornament to take home. These activities are free, and children must be accompanied by an adult. There will also be a holiday bazaar, open hearth cooking demonstrations, a bonfire on Canton Street and the Lighting of the Town Square with a visit from Santa.

Get into character: All along the tour route and throughout the day, actors from the Georgia Ensemble Theatre will be in period costume and engaging with tour-goers.

Booties required? No.

Marietta Pilgrimage: A Christmas Home Tour

Six private homes in Northwest Marietta/Kennesaw Avenue Historic District plus 11 historic public buildings decorated and open for touring.

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 7

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 8

Candlelight Tour of three homes: 7-9:30 p.m. Dec. 7

Shuttle available during day.

Tickets: Day tours — $20 in advance, $25 at door. Candlelight tour — $15 in advance, $20 at door. Combination ticket (tour three houses during day and three at night): $25 in advance, $30 at door. Group rates available. No children under 8 are allowed on tour. Advance tickets may be purchased at Marietta Welcome Center or Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, or online.

Information: www.mariettapilgrimage.com or 770-429-1115

The tour takes place in the historic district around the Marietta Square and has been offered for more than 25 years. The homes on the tour have all been restored and are filled with antique collections and decorated for the season. Santa arrives on the square on Thursday evening, Dec. 5, and hosts the annual Holiday Tree Lighting. During the home tour weekend, Santa’s Workshop will be open in the square with the opportunity for photos with Santa.

Homeowners take the night off: Homeowners take a break from the crowds and spend the weekend at a Marietta hotel.

Booties required? Only if it's raining or wet.

Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes

Eight private homes plus the Briarcliff Summit, built in 1924 as a luxury apartment building by Asa Candler Jr.

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 7

Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 8

Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at door. Advance tickets may be purchased online or at Intown Ace Hardware on Highland Avenue.

Information: www.vahitourofhomes.org

This is the 19th annual tour of homes for this popular intown Atlanta neighborhood. This year’s tour includes both renovated older homes from the 1920s and 1930s and new construction. Homes include ideas for expansion of living space into former attics and basements and complete renovations. The newest home on tour was built in 2006 and renovated this year. The Briarcliff Summit, newly renovated and open to tour-goers for the first time, was first an apartment building, then converted to a hotel and then back into apartments.

Come hungry: Local restaurants provide tastings from noon to 4 p.m. at every home.

Booties required? Booties required at all houses.

Peachtree Garden Club Christmas Home Tour

Four private Buckhead homes decorated for the holidays by four different designers to suit the personalities of the homeowners.

10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 12

Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the tour. Children under 12, free. Advance tickets may be purchased online or at Boxwoods Atlanta, Lucy's Market, Gramercy or Glyn Weakley Interiors.

Information: www.peachtreegardenclub.org

The homes on this tour are a 1921 home designed by Neel Reid, a 12,000-square-foot stone and brick residence filled with 18th- and 19th-century pieces, a six-bedroom, seven-bath home overlooking Tuxedo Road and a home designed in 1996 by Spitzmiller & Norris and renovated recently by the same firm.

A long-standing tradition: The Peachtree Garden Club was founded in 1923 and offered its first Christmas tour in 1949.

Booties required: Yes; provided at each house.

Grant Park Candlelight Tour of Homes

An evening tour of 10 private homes in the city of Atlanta’s largest historic district.

6-10 p.m. Dec. 14-15

Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at door. Children 10 and under, free. Advance tickets may be purchased online or by calling 404-688-7501. The ticket booth where tickets can be purchased and prepaid tickets exchanged for programs is at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

Information: http://candlelighttourofhomes.com/or 404-688-7501

The 10 private homes on the tour cover a wide range of building styles including Victorian, Craftsman and Italianate. The mix includes both renovated homes and new construction. Only one home has previously been on the tour. St. Paul United Methodist Church will host an artists’ market and a bake sale. On Dec. 14, kids can visit with Santa from 5-7 p.m. at the church, which also serves as the takeoff point for caroling hayrides that evening, 5-7 p.m., as well as 6-8 p.m. Dec. 15. There will be a candlelight Christmas concert at the church at 5 p.m. Dec. 15. All activities at the church are free.

A chance to see where the "Grant" of Grant Park lived: Also included on the tour is the mansion of Lemuel P. Grant, namesake for Grant Park, and home of the Atlanta Preservation Center.

Booties required? No.

Avondale Estates Christmas Tour of Homes

An afternoon tour of six private homes, including two of the oldest homes in Avondale Estates and two of the newest.

Dec. 15. Holiday market: noon-6 p.m. Tour of homes: 3-8 p.m.

Trolleys will carry tour-goers to the six homes as well as the city’s charter school, the Museum School. Parking for the trolley is at Avondale Estates First Baptist Church.

Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at door. Advance tickets may be purchased at Avondale City Hall, Finders Keepers Furniture, REAL Salon and Seventeen Steps. Tour day tickets are available at the Avondale Community Club. Sign up for the trolley by contacting mplcvl@aol.com

Information: www.avondaletourofhomes.com

This is the community’s 21st annual tour of homes and is made particularly festive with local musicians performing at each home. In addition to visiting the private homes, tour-goers can shop at the Holiday Market in the Avondale Community Club on Lake Avondale. You can purchase or pick up your tickets there. The market will include 30 booths with holiday gifts, a cafe and an author’s corner with appearances by Mary Kay Andrews, Casey Kallenberg Dunn and others. The homes on tour range from a 1920s bungalow designed by noted Atlanta architect Leila Ross Wilburn to a townhome built in 2001. Avondale Estates First Baptist Church, which is providing parking for those taking the trolley, will present a service of lessons and carols at 7 p.m.

A local landmark: Lake Avondale is a surprise, tucked inside this historic neighborhood. The Avondale Lake House, built in the 1920s and home of many activities for the tour, sits on the lake and is available for special events.

Booties required? At some homes.

Holiday traditions abound: baking dozens and dozens of cookies for the office, the girls’ night out cookie swap and classroom parties. Checking out the wintry lights in the neighborhood, at Centennial Olympic Park or at Lake Lanier.

And don’t forget going on one or more holiday home tours, curated by cities and neighborhood associations across metro Atlanta.

Homes and historic buildings are dressed up for the holidays, and the owners are opening their doors to share what’s special about their homes and community.

In Decatur, Teresa Dau and Amanda McMillan have been decorating for weeks, getting ready for Decatur’s Holiday Candlelight Tour of Homes. They bought their 1920s bungalow two years ago, and after lots of renovation, they moved in just before Christmas last year with Petey the cat. Not long after, Jameson, now 8 months old, joined the family.

When asked to put their home on tour, Dau and McMillan jumped at the chance.

“We were really excited. I love Christmas more than anything in the whole world, so being on the tour is a great excuse for me to go even more overboard with decorations,” McMillan said.

Decatur’s tour includes seven private homes in the Sycamore Historic District. It’s an evening tour, so McMillan has concentrated on exterior lighting both on the street side and around the backyard pool.

There will be quite a few Christmas trees as well. “We’ll have a traditional Christmas tree in the living room, a flocked live ‘Winter Wonderland’ tree in the family room, a tree on the back screened porch, one in Jameson’s room, another in the master,” McMillan said, while contemplating where she might add a few more.

There’ll be garlands, wreaths and centerpieces, all fashioned from live greenery. No artificial trees or swags for this family. “I had to bring in help. Betty Anderson of Interiors at Fun Finds and Colleen Nelson of Murson Designs are getting us over-the-top Christmassy,” McMillan said.

In Roswell, they’re getting ready for an 1850s Heirloom Holidays celebration that includes eight historic homes, most built in the 1840s and 1850s.

Carolyn Whitmore is the owner of “The President’s House,” originally built as the home of S.Y. Stribling, president of the Roswell Manufacturing Co., known locally as the Roswell mill. It’s one of the newer houses on the tour. The Roswell Historic Society says it was built in 1908.

Whitmore bought the Queen Anne-style house in 2004. She and daughter Susan run Carolyn Whitmore Studio and Gallery in town.

“Carolyn always loved this house. She looked at it for years, and when she saw a “for sale’ sign go up in the yard, she jumped at the chance to buy it. It’s classic and timeless, perfect for photography,” said Susan Whitmore.

The connection to the Stribling family is still strong. The Whitmores took a family reunion portrait in front of the house for Jack Stribling, great-grandson of S.Y. Stribling, and Jack Stribling’s granddaughter’s portrait hangs in the studio.

“I really feel that you can walk back in time when you come into this house. The lower banisters, the grand ceilings and pocket doors, all give you a sense of what life must have been like. I can imagine the daughters of the house coming down the staircase while their dates waited in the parlor, and then walking to the Roswell square to listen to music,” said Susan Whitmore.

In 1975, now Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harris Hines was a state court judge working in the courthouse on the Marietta Square. He and his wife, Helen, bought a home within walking distance of the square in the Northwest Marietta/Kennesaw Avenue historic district. Their home is one of the six private houses on the Marietta Pilgrimage: A Christmas Home Tour this year.

The Hineses are particularly interested in welcoming people to their historic neighborhood. “We’re very interested in keeping the atmosphere of Marietta and feel it’s so very necessary for the older areas to be preserved,” she said.

The Hines home was built in about 1880 as a two-story Victorian with wraparound porches. In the 1930s, a fire destroyed the second floor, and the owner at the time renovated the house to look more like a Williamsburg cottage.

In keeping with their love of historic places and things, the Hines home is filled with antiques — English and American furniture, Imari porcelain, Amherst ironstone and more. But nothing is off-limits. “We’ve never wanted a museum-type place. It’s a home that’s truly lived in, a comfortable home for our children and their friends. Our daughter learned to skate in our living room,” said Justice Hines.

Not to be missed is the family’s collection of carved Santas. They’re the work of Marietta wood carver Ron Ransom, former director of Marietta Parks and Recreation.

“We add a new Santa every year and enjoy calling Ron in September with our ideas for that year. My husband loves to hunt, so we have a Santa in a blaze orange vest with a shotgun. Our son played football at the University of Georgia so we have a Santa in a football uniform, and one with a soccer ball because our daughter played soccer,” Mrs. Hines said.

The Santas will all be on display in the family den.