While driving through Dennisville, you can't help but admire the historic homes that make up the town. Just imagine how beautiful the interiors must be.
On Saturday, Dec. 15, visitors will get a chance to see inside many of Dennisville's historic homes and buildings as the Dennisville Historic Home Association hosts the 24th annual Dennisville Christmas House Tour, featuring a minimum of eight beautifully decorated 18th- and 19th-century homes, several public buildings and two churches, open to the public.
The annual tour draws hundreds of visitors, many of whom come from out of state to see the beauty of the town, said Jack Connolly, president of the association.
Connolly said one of the greatest draws of the event is getting to go inside the homes and wander through the historic spaces while hearing about the houses' history from the homeowners, who have invested time and energy into restoring, preserving and researching it, and are eager to share what they've found.
"We pride ourselves on the possibility for folks to get up close and personal to these old homes and experience different building techniques, low ceilings and exposed beams and the coziness of oversized, soot-stained brick fireplaces," he said.
Connolly's own 19th-century house, the Capt. Charles J. Crawford House, will be on this year's tour. Next year, it will be the featured house of the tour. This year's featured house is the 18th century Thomas (Jr.) and Zilpah Ludlam House, built in 1790 and owned by Dennis Township residents Joan Berkey and Scott Smith.
Berkey said the first time she stepped inside the house, she knew it would one day be hers.
"I just knew it. I could feel it," said Berkey. "I went home and said to my husband, 'I saw the coolest house today. All it needs is some cosmetics.'"
The Ludlam House was built on Jake's Landing Road. It was moved to the corner of Jake's Landing Road and Route 47 in the late 1800s and to its present location off Route 47 in South Dennis in 1972.
Berkey, a historic preservation consultant, and Smith, a retired custom builder, purchased the house in 2007 from George Masselos, an antiques dealer who has since died.
"I think he paid $100 for the house, and it was in terrible shape," Berkey said.
On Nov. 29, Berkey and Smith received the Cape May County Historical & Genealogical Society's Heritage Award for their work in preserving the historic house.
Berkey said guests will be invited to walk through every room of the house, including the upstairs bedrooms, and she will be on-site to answer any questions and share stories.
Some homeowners take it a step further and dress the part of the past, Connolly said.
The Edwurd James House, owned by Jeff Dolhanczyk, will be decorated in a WWII theme with reenactors on site to give a guided tour, he said.
Connolly said the Historic Dennisville Christmas House Tour is the association's only annual fundraiser. The funds raised are then used to aid the Dennisville Historic Home Association in its efforts of educating the public on the rich history of Dennisville and beautifying the village.
"We pour the money right back into Dennisville," he said.
Contact Elisa Lala:
If you go
The 24th annual Historic Dennisville Christmas House Tour
5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15
Tickets are $10, sold at the Dennisville Post Office, 24 Hall Ave. the night of the tour only, starting at 4:30 p.m. Soup and sandwich supper at the South Dennis Trinity United Methodist Church beginning at 4 p.m. until food runs out. $8 adults, $3.50 children younger 12. Houses open at 5 p.m.
Call Jack Connolly at 609-861-1338