The Independent Presbyterian Church Holiday House Tour is in its 65th year – but it seems to be an ageless wonder.
The seasonal event, set this year for Dec. 13 and 14, is a longstanding Birmingham and Over the Mountain tradition that invites tour-goers into festively-decorated homes. But the tour has a very timely goal: raising money to help disadvantaged children have bright futures.
Proceeds from the event help fund the Summer Learning Program at the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, an IPC mission since the farm started in 1923.
At a cost of about $150,000, the Summer Learning Program relies on funds generated by the IPC home tour, according to church officials.
The program’s campers are rising third, fourth and fifth-graders living in poverty.
The program tries to address challenges faced by these children, including summer learning loss and nutritional deficiencies. Some 80 campers participate in the program, which offers academics, enrichment, physical education and spiritual development.
For six weeks during the summer, certified teachers give academic instruction and supervise the children during enrichment activities. On Fridays, the children look forward to field trips to area attractions.
Children are provided transportation to the program from their neighborhoods. The program also provides breakfast, lunch and a snack to the children, many of whom would otherwise be without food.
Gini Williams, Children’s Fresh Air Farm director, said the Summer Learning Program provides crucial tools for learning to its campers.
“The children we are serving, all living in poverty, are at a very real risk of losing grade level skills during the summer, such that by the time they get to high school, they could be three grade levels behind,” Williams said. “Standardized tests from our program show that the average gain was two months progress in grade level skills in reading and four months in math in 2014. Considering that typical summer learning loss is one to two months, these students entered the fall term far ahead of where they would have been without the program.”
This year’s tour includes four homes and an office building. The historic church also will be open.
Featured stops in Forest Park will be the homes of Jason Turner and Robert Listerman, 3924 10th Ave. South, and Melissa Singleton, 4001 10th Ave.
Mountain Brook houses open for the tour are those of Joey Pierson, 3242 Salisbury Road, and Ragan and Brad Cain, 3031 Canterbury Road.
The Stewart Perry Headquarters at 4855 Overton Road also will welcome tour visitors.
Margaret Shuttlesworth is the 2014 tour chairman, and Sarah Duggan is co-chairman.
Tickets go on sale Dec. 1 and are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. For ticket information, call the church at 933-1830, visit www.ipc-usa.org, or stop by the church reception desk during business hours. Tickets may also be purchased at the homes and at the church during the tour.—Donna Cornelius
IPC Tour Stops:
Jason Turner and Robert Listerman are among other homeowners who will welcome IPC tour-goers this year. Also open will be an office building and the church.
Ragan and Brad Cain, 3031 Canterbury Road
The Cains’ home was built in the 1930s but was substantially remodeled when the couple purchased it in 2011.
The exterior remodel was designed by architect Jeremy Corkern with Bates Corkern. The creatively redesigned exterior was recently featured on the cover of Southern Living, while the interior has been featured in Celebrate! magazine.
As part of the interior renovation, the staircase was designed as a twin to the staircase in Ragan Cain’s ancestral home, the Foy-Ragan-Johnston Home, built in 1851 in Eufaula. The paneling on the north wall in the Cains’ den was made from wood from a barn on the family property.
The table in the dining room was a gift to the couple from Ragan Cain’s family. It was passed down through her maternal grandfather’s family in Eufaula and dates back to the late 18th century.
The Cains have acquired several unusual pieces, including an antique prayer bench in the master bedroom and antique twin beds in the upstairs bedroom.
Joey Pierson, 3242 Salisbury Road
Built in 1929, this English Tudor residence is attributed to architect Jacob Salie and was originally home to the Abele family.
The house has a brick exterior with half-timbering detail, a slate roof with several tall chimneys and its original carved limestone arched entry.
In the 1990s, the house was enlarged with the addition of a master suite and garage as well as a detached pool house with antique wood timbers.
Joey Pierson purchased the property in 2012 and began working with designers Hannon Kirk Doody and Doug Davis to redecorate the house and update the grounds in conjunction with Peter Falkner.
A recently completed pavilion structure matches the details of the original house and serves as a gateway to a new outdoor entertaining area.
Inside, the house has its original wrought iron stair railing, elaborate moldings and several carved fireplace mantles.
The interior is furnished with a blend of European antiques, custom upholstery and a collection of antique Oriental rugs. Many of the antiques and rugs found in the home were purchased locally.
Artwork includes pieces by Meredith Keith, Brad Robertson, Ben Carlisle, Scott Hill and other regional artists.
In addition to the pool house and pavilion, the 1.2-acre property includes several private gardens, driveways from both Salisbury Road and Sterling Road, an oval-shaped swimming pool and large stone terraces that create outdoor living spaces.
Melissa Singleton, 4001 10thAve. S.
The two-story brick Aldridge-Ebben house in Forest Park features a triple-arch entry accented with keystones.
The house was built in 1924 by Mr. and Mrs. Abner B. Aldridge. The exterior remains very similar to original photographs taken for tax records.
The house is registered with the Jefferson County Historical Commission and described in the “History of Forest Park” by Catherine Greene Browne.
The Singletons bought the house in 2008.
While the house retains much of the original design, modifications have been made. The living room, with beautiful moldings and a limestone mantle, opens to a dining room, music room and sunroom that are spacious and filled with light.
The dining room has the original swinging door to the butler’s pantry. The music room, which often housed a piano and other musical instruments, now is used for reading and playing chess or cards – and always is home to the Christmas tree.
The kitchen has been enlarged and renovated. It contains special art, books and culinary items collected during the family’s travels. Over the room’s French doors is an iron piece discovered in the house’s crawl space.
The kitchen often hosts group cooking nights, with guests ending up in the dining room or music room or eating on the porch.
The French doors open to the courtyard, which has a bluestone terrace, fountain and pool. The landscape includes boxwood hedges, espaliered apple trees, seasonal flowers, herbs and Boston ivy. Designed to feel like a French garden, it’s enjoyed daily by the family dogs, Einstein and Daisy.
The color palette for the house’s interior walls is neutral. The furnishings and carpets have been collected over the years with an eclectic mix of old and modern.
Melissa Singleton loves art, so a variety of styles and mediums are hung throughout the house.
Stewart Perry Corporate Headquarters, 4855 Overton Road
Stewart Perry’s corporate headquarters are situated beside a lake on 16 wooded acres.
When the 25,000-square-foot building was completed in 2008, the construction company’s vision was to create a comfortable work environment for its employees, to serve as a thoughtful and contributing neighbor in the community and to build a flagship facility to serve clients.
Respect for the land is woven throughout the campus, which features naturally landscaped grounds and native plants.
The building’s doors and ceilings are made from red ball cypress salvaged from one of the company’s building projects. The oak floors and siding came from a demolished warehouse in Virginia.
Today, the campus includes a woodworking barn, a year-round vegetable garden, a stocked lake, beehives, purple martin homes and a waterfall.
Among its many awards, Stewart Perry’s headquarters has achieved the U.S. Green Building Council LEED accreditation.
Independent Presbyterian Church, 3100 Highland Ave.
Founded in 1915, the church was designed by architect William Warren of Warren, Knight and Davis. The sanctuary and parlor will be decorated for the tour by IPC members. Christmas tea will be available both days for ticket holders in the church’s Great Hall. ––Donna Cornelius