2017-11-16 / Front Page

Tupper-Barnett during renovation will be special attraction on Christmas Tour

By TIFFANY RAINEY


Visitors to the Christmas Tour of Homes will get a look at ongoing renovations at this historic property. Visitors to the Christmas Tour of Homes will get a look at ongoing renovations at this historic property. In April, curious onlookers watched as work crews descended upon the long-vacant Tupper-Barnett House to begin the restoration of one of Washington’s most admired downtown historic homes. Since then, there’s been a flurry of activity on the corner of Robert Toombs Avenue and Allison Street as exterior renovations led by contractors Christine Gordon and Michael Lally have progressed. Though the full restoration is far from finished, those seeking a closer look will finally get their chance when the wrought iron gates are swung open to welcome residents and visitors during this year’s Christmas Tour of Homes on December 9.

“Each year we feature lots of beautifully preserved and restored homes on the Christmas Tour but rarely do we get a chance to show visitors the process it takes to restore these historic homes,” said Christmas Tour Committee Chairman Sharon Jones. “This will be a unique opportunity to see a restoration first-hand.”

Built in 1832 for William H. Pope, the home was originally composed of eight rooms on two stories and was constructed in the Federal style. It wasn’t until about 1860 that the Doric fluted columns transforming the home into an impressive Greek Revival were added by one of the home’s more famous residents, well-respected Baptist Reverend Henry Allen Tupper. Now considered one of the nation’s best examples of a peristyle Greek Revival colonnade, the 18 columns encircling the home and porches were prioritized as renovations began. “We were able to save every one of the handcrafted, fluted columns,” said Gordon. “Each was individually restored before we began the complete rebuild of the 2,000-squarefoot porches.”

Another major change to the home’s exterior is the removal of a ground-floor addition at the rear that was likely added in the early 1900s by Washington Mayor Edward Augustus Barnett. The addition was removed in an effort to return the home to its original footprint, according to Gordon. The home remained in the Barnett family for nearly 100 years before it was sold in 2002. After a succession of owners and several years sitting empty, the home now belongs to California-native Tim Thibodeaux and will be used as a second home and event space once restoration is complete.

Given that renovations are ongoing, tour attendees will primarily be touring the exterior of the home on December 9 as contractors detail the arduous process they undertook to restore the columns and porches. Gordon added that, she hopes, they will be far enough along to open some of the doors to allow visitors a peek at the interior restoration as well. “I don’t think a lot of people realize how much goes into restoring a historic house like this,” she said. “It’s a lot more complicated and messy than people assume.”

The Washington-Wilkes Christmas Tour of Homes, hosted by the Washington-Wilkes Historical Foundation, will kick off Friday, December 8, with a Christmas Party at Merry Oaks on North Alexander Avenue and the Louise Maynard Dessert Soiree at the Washington Woman’s Club immediately after. On Saturday, December 9, several homes, including the Tupper-Barnett, will be on tour from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are currently available at the Washington Historical Museum (308 E Robert Toombs Avenue, Washington. 706-678-5001. HistoricalWW@gmail.com) or online at HistoryOfWilkes.org. All proceeds from the tour will go toward the publication of a comprehensive guide to Wilkes County graves and cemeteries.

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