Christmas is coming early in Courtland! Open House to be held on December 11, 2022!
You’d think little elves had been flittering around, dusting houses with glitter and twinkling lights! Oh, my goodness, how beautiful everything looks! There’s just something about Courtland that makes people nostalgic for Christmas’s past, when people decorated with all live greenery, lots of candles, and the smell of peppermint and chocolate greeted visitors at the door.
Well, those little elves have been busy as can be so that visitors can come and see all of the festive decorations, visit with friends and the kids can look under every tree for one of those little elves, just one peek!
The tour begins at 1:00 p.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. on December 11. Featured will be five beautifully decorated homes and also includes Courtland’s historical Presbyterian Church.
Tickets will be on sale at the gazebo on Courtland’s historic downtown square. Tickets are $5 each for adults and children under 12 are free. According to event planner Ann Claborn, the tickets are cash only this year. Carriage rides will also be available.
On this year’s tour, for the first time, is one of the most interesting homes in Lawrence County. Located at 6644 Co. Rd. 377, Courtland, AL 35618, the Coffey home will feature an elegant Country Christmas. According to the owner, David Coffey, folks around here used to call it the Lock A Road. “We will decorate for the holidays,” he said.
“Our house was once the Joe Wheeler Elementary School,” said Coffey. “Miss Annie Wheeler donated five acres and $1000.00 toward the school in 1936. The school was open from about 1936 to about 1963 and there are still several people in the area who attended school here.”
David’s grandfather, Hubert Coffey, bought the school and five acres at a county auction in 1963 or 1964. “He and his wife Ella Lou Coffey converted the school into their home and moved in by the end of 1965. My grandmother Ella Lou and my Great Aunt, Velma Coffey had both worked in the cafeteria at the school,” said David.
After his grandparents passed, there was a fire in 2004 caused by a lightning strike. “My parents, Ray and Gerry Coffey oversaw the restoration and made some aesthetic changes to the house.”
“My mother gifted the house to Sharon and I in December 2017 and we immediately began major renovations because the house had not been lived in for over 15 years and was in a state of disrepair. In 2018, we purchased an additional 16 acres so the homestead is now 21 acres total.”
Although the renovations are not yet complete, the Coffey’s moved into the house full-time in 2020 and continue to work on projects to improve the home and property.
Courtland’s historic Presbyterian Church will also be featured on this year’s tour. The Church (c.1859-68) was begun prior to the Civil War as the second building for a congregation organized in 1821, this tall church still retains the interior galley. A fire in 1957 destroyed all but two of the Victorian Era stained glass windows. Of note are the handsomely paneled front doors and the fine brickwork. This is Courtland's only remaining 19th century church. Services are held every Sunday morning and visitors are always welcome. For the tour, the church will be decorated and visitors will enjoy the beauty of its sanctuary.
“We are so excited to be bringing back our Christmas Open House,” said Courtland’s mayor, Linda Peebles. “We didn’t have it for the past three years due to COVID, but people kept asking about it so the committee got several beautiful houses in addition to the church. Some of these homes are on the tour for the first time. This is a real treat!”
The houses can be visited in no particular order, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Addresses are as follows:
Gilchrist-Terry-Gaudin-Orr House, located at 430 Monroe St. is the home of Deano and Coco Orr. The house was built circa 1830-1912. Built as a two-story log house, it was later covered with weather boarding.
Remodeled for George Gilchrist in 1912, to its present appearance, it features an extension of a columned portico.
Campbell-Gilchrist-Norwood-Reed House, located at 565 Hamilton St. The house, currently owned by Jake Reed, was built around 1850. Originally built as a log dog-trot, these nearly identical dwellings were remodeled as one-story Greek Revival–style cottages in 1850. An interesting feature is the block mounting block near the sidewalk in front of the house on the west side.
Tweedy-Norton-Morris-Thompson House, circa 1825m 1910m 1988, is located at 11784 Jackson Street and owned by Richard Thompson, this house is one of the first brick dwellings in Alabama. The most striking feature of this dignified, Federal-style structure is an elaborately molded brick cornice running beneath the front eves. (Although found frequently in the valley of Virginia, this feature rarely occurred in Alabama during this period). The present porch and other features date from the early 1900s.
Lile-Ashford-Hellonbeck-Green-Weeks House, owned by Brenda Weeks, is located at 12035 Jackson Street, is a two–story frame house with one story north wing is believed to have been erected for Thomas Lile. The beautiful 2-tiered porch with flat, pierced worked balustrade is one of the most detailed in the area.
Following the tour, which ends at 4:00 p.m. everyone is cordially invited to attend a community gathering on the square. “There will be singing by the Orr Sisters and people from some of the other churches, and everyone is invited to join in,” said one of the event planners, Linda Gipson. “This will be a time of community fellowship.”
For additional information regarding the Courtland Christmas Tour of Homes, sponsored by the Courtland Revitalization Committee, please call Ann Claborn at 256-602-6100, or Peggy Hazle at 256-637-8109.