Homes for the Holidays Small Town, Big Houses, Bright Lights - Deck the Halls!

by Nathan Oravec

Ah. The Christmas Season. Could it possibly get any busier? Just ask the owners of the six homes featured in North Hagerstown High School’s Holiday House Tour, who culled every merry resource they could muster to prepare for the event - trimming their trees, hauling out their holly and hanging up their stockings in only a month’s time.

Teresa Schoeck, one-woman planning committee, will also vouch for the holiday rush, having headed up the PR for the festive fund-raiser as of late, and attended the event’s first (and probably only) meeting last week to finalize details prior to the tour date, Sunday, December 8 from 1-4 p.m.

The advance word is - This is going to be a good one.

Schoeck, who was enlisted to help by North High’s Junior Class President - her daughter, Leslie, is feeling good about the all-volunteer effort. “Hopefully it will be a very festive event.”

The project, she says, was held only once before - during its launch two years ago as a fund-raiser for the high school’s Junior Class, who traditionally give the Senior Class the gift of a prom. This year, the Tour proceeds will also fund prom night - an annual event of majestic proportions, in and of itself, transforming the North High gymnasium into a fantasy land. Moneys garnered from the dance’s ticket sales will then be divided - with half being donated to S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving), and half to the Junior Class, who will dedicate it to yet another school improvement gift.

Spotlighting six Hagerstown homes of varying style and history, the event hopes to provide house-tourists with a special viewing experience - similar in tone to others of its kind; but unique in its roster. Located primarily in the Fountainhead area, home of the Fountainhead Country Club, some of the homes have participated in different house tours of previous years, while the others are relative newcomers. Homeowners were not chosen, says Schoeck, but rather volunteered to be a part of the event, opening their doors to the public for the sake of the school, and for a bit of Christmas cheer. Houses range from the historic, such as Gordon Circle’s Colonial - dating to the 1930s and one of the first homes built on the Country Club property - to the contemporary - such as a semi detached on Dover Drive built in 2000 and featuring beautiful landscaping. Whether modest or extravagant - red brick or Cedar - together, the homes span the spectrum of architecture. Yet they share one common bond. Each is lovely to look at.

In addition to the homes themselves - the most crucial aspect of any self-respecting Holiday House Tour is, of course, an emphasis on the holidays. With candles in the window, welcoming wreaths on the door, and mistletoe above the hearth - not to mention the ever-loving evergreen, the sights and smells of Christmas will be displayed. “I think a lot of people will come to get ideas,” says Schoeck, as each home - picturesque on any given day - when decorated, will transcend quietly to that perfect place in our hearts that remembers Norman Rockwell Christmases of yore, whether we were present or not.

“We love to decorate. We decorate early every year,” says Kathy Griemsmann, whose son Alec, is also a North High student. The Griemsmann’s home on Paradise Church Road features not one - but four Christmas trees, each with a distinct theme. While a silver and gold tree welcomes visitors in the foyer, “bird” and “fruit” trees reside in the living and dining rooms respectively. The centerpiece, however, of traditional style, stands - at nearly 12 feet - majestically in the family room, a tower of change from “Charlie Brown trees” of prior years, says Kathy, and provides plenty of shadows in which the family cat can hide.

The event, says Schoeck, is orchestrated entirely by volunteers - from the homeowners themselves, to the 30 individuals - parents and students - who will assist with refreshments, tickets and more on tour day. “The spirit of working together has been [incredible]. It’s an amazing project, [and thanks go to those] people who were willing to share their homes. They’re beautiful homes and will really be a treat for everybody to see.”

Tickets for the Tour are $15, and include all six houses. For more information and to purchase tickets, call Teresa Schoeck, 301-797-2066, or North Hagerstown High School at 301-766-8238. Tickets will also be available at each house the day of the event. Maps will also be available to make navigation easier.

Homes for the Holiday House Tour 2002
1. 1433 Hamilton Blvd.
2. 13514 Paradise Church Road
3. 18709 Dover Drive
4. 13308 Canterbury Drive
5. 13028 Gordon Circle
6. 13112 Fountainhead Road