'A Very Southern Christmas'

5 homes will be featured in 67th annual Holiday House Tour and Tea

Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 11/26/17

The Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter will host its 67th annual Holiday House Tour and Tea in Sumter on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. This year, the theme of the tour is "A Very Southern Christmas" with five featured homes. The tour hours will be from …

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'A Very Southern Christmas'

5 homes will be featured in 67th annual Holiday House Tour and Tea


The Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter will host its 67th annual Holiday House Tour and Tea in Sumter on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. This year, the theme of the tour is "A Very Southern Christmas" with five featured homes. The tour hours will be from noon until 6 p.m. The tickets can be purchased at each house on the day of the tour or at the Garden Center from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m. The tickets featuring original art by Betty Reese can be purchased before the day of the tour at the Sumter Visitors Center at Swan Lake now through Friday, Dec. 1. Children 12 and under are free. The Holiday House Tea will be hosted by the Azalea Garden Club at the Alice Boyle Garden Center, 842 West Liberty St., from 3 to 5 p.m. All ticket holders are invited to come.

This year, special musical events and groups will be featured at each holiday house:

Connie and WT Brogdon

Scarborough House

David Deprill

Carmela Bryan and Michael Duffy

Garden Center

The Henry L. Scarborough House

The Brunson Law Firm LLC

Willie H. Brunson Esquire

425 N. Main St.

In August 2015, Willie Brunson, a prominent attorney in Sumter, bought the "Scarborough House" to use for his law firm that he opened in January 2016. The house was previously owned by Substation II.

In addition to practicing law, Brunson has spent time researching the history of the house and its features as well as planning the restoration of the house. To furnish the house, he found antique furniture that fits the d cor. Because the house is now used for Brunson's law firm, the furniture and accessories are used as well as admired.

To help understand and preserve the Scarborough House's history, the Sumter County Historical Society erected a metal sign in front of the house in 1995 that says:

"The Henry Lee Scarborough House was built 1908-1909 by Scarborough (1866-1929), a leading Sumter County famer, business man, and public servant serving as county treasurer (1894-1902), commissioner of public works for six years and clerk of court (1912-1929). The house, an excellent example of the Neo-Classical Revival style, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995."

Although the house has two levels, only the expansive bottom floor will be available for the tour. The flooring comprises restored heart pine and maple, both original to the house. Likewise, oak and dark mahogany wainscoting and judges paneling are found in various rooms. Throughout the house, the rooms have 12-foot ceilings, plaster walls with wainscoting, built-in bookcases, hand-blown glass windows, pocket doors, a staircase and chandeliers. The rooms today have a variety of purposes related to the needs of the law firm; however, these rooms in 1910 may have had different names and functions, such as a parlor, men's smoking room with a bar, a dining room, a butler's pantry and doorway, a study by the staircase, a back entry hallway and perhaps a music room. Of special interest are the metal covers of the coal burning fireplaces and the surrounding hand-carved mantels and tiger eye oak paneling around the brick on the fireplace. Each fireplace is different and worth studying for its craftsmanship.

Besides the large antiques that include Empire pieces circa 1890 that are throughout the house, Brunson has a number of smaller antiques for those who love history and the study of the culture of a bygone era. A few of the most unusual include South Carolina dispensary bottles from about 1890, a National cash register, a Thomas Edison ediphone, telephones by Sumter Telephone Manufacturing that was on Harvin Street, a Victrola that still can be played, framed deeds from 1822 and 1842 and a Civil War surgical knife.

A special room that has been added on the house for the law firm is a mock trial room in which Brunson and his attorney's prepare for litigation.

David Deprill

32 Frank Clarke St.

Framed by a large oak tree to the right of his home and a multiple tiered fountain to the left, David Deprill's vintage home is an inviting setting for 'A Very Southern Christmas."

An interior designer, Deprill has created separate Christmas themes that flow into each room. All the decorated Christmas trees, as well as each room's Christmas d cor, are heartwarming and stunning, creating a Christmas feast for the eyes.

Using a variety of Christmas themes and interesting decorations, Deprill has placed large Christmas trees throughout his vintage, 1948 ranch-style home. The entryway and main living room showcase traditional Christmas d cor in red, green and gold on the trees and mantel. In the music room, the baby grand piano comes to life as local pianist Tristan Pack and vocalist Cierra Stewart entertain guests. The tree in the music room features a musical theme, complete with carolers and elves. Even the hallway in David's home is made special, showcasing artwork by his grandfather, the late William J. Reynolds. A guest bedroom is showcased with a tree featuring pineapple d cor, a snowman room is sure to inspire the spirit of winter, and the den d cor evokes the woodlands with bird and animal decorations. The dining room is more formal, with a Christmas theme featuring elegant glass and crystal on the tree and a chandelier appointed in the same fashion. Finally, in the kitchen, Jane Sterling, of Entertain with Jane, recalls Christmases past as she prepares and serves cookies and cider.

Connie and William Turner Brodgon III

Brogdon Farms

4470 U.S. 521 S.

Connie and William Turner's home was built in 1839 by John Bagnal Brogdon. Throughout its 178 years, seven generations of Brogdons have lived in this house - John Bagnal, William Turner, John Clint, William Turner Sr. (Bill), William Turner Jr. (Billy), William Turner III (W.T.), and William Turner IV (Turner). Over time, many renovations have taken place as each new generation faced the opportunities and challenges of living in an older family house.

Connie and W.T. Brogdon III moved into the house in 1995 and have since made necessary changes. They have added a bathroom, removed a wall to enlarge a room, remodeled the kitchen, moved the laundry room, added a screen porch and lowered some ceilings. Although the original flooring may be now subflooring, the Brogdons have recently refinished wood flooring that was put in sometime in the 1940s. Over its 178 years, the house has been transformed from one with an outdoor kitchen and privy to a home with modern-day conveniences and appliances.

Connie and W.T. have found ways to feature much of the Brogdons' rich history through their decorating. W.T. used antique wooden doors from the old Brogdon Depot at the Brogdon railroad stop where his grandfather, William Turner Sr., ran a general store. He has refinished and stained the wood to make unique wooden doors on either side of a large entryway between the hall and dining room. In addition, he has fashioned a door jamb out of wooden beams from the "old Smith house" (1853) for the entryway between the kitchen and dining room. Above this entryway in the kitchen rests a large Brogdon sign that used to stand by the railroad stop to inform the train's personnel of the community in which the train was stopping.

During the Civil War, this home stood directly in the path of history as Union soldiers traveled from Manning to Sumter, looting and burning properties along the way. This crucial part of history came to be known as Potter's Raid, named after Gen. Edward E. Potter, who answered Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's orders. The story of Potter's Raid has been passed down through the generations and recorded by Cassie Nicholes in her book "Historical Sketches of Sumter County: Its Birth and Growth." The following is from the book:

"She (Grandmother Brogdon) watched as all the outhouses on the premises went up in flames and a soldier was placing a blaze beneath her beloved home. In desperation she gave the Masonic signal of distress. Instantaneously, the officer in charge ordered the fire extinguished . Thus the beautiful old house was saved."

Pictures of the seven generations of Brogdon men are proudly displayed in the library. The portrait of Lillis Turner Brogdon, W.T.'s mother, overlooks the room from its place above the fireplace. The painting, along with many others in the house, was painted by her mother. In the hall, pictures of the family throughout the years are displayed on a rustic work shed door.

Outside the house, the family enjoys the screened-in porch, the patio, pergola, fire pit and other beautiful natural settings surrounding the house.

Billy and Kristi Downer

3435 U.S. 521 S.

The home of Billy and Kristi Downer was built circa 1875 and has a rich history. The original builder, a veteran of the battle at Dingle's Mill during the Civil War, was John Ingram Brogdon. He and his wife, Susan Rebecca, lived in the house until their deaths. Jake, a son, inherited the house, and he and his wife, Louise, enjoyed the house with their family until their deaths. Louise taught school at the nearby Brogdon schoolhouse. Family and neighbors recall the house as a "happy place" where family reunions were held. Recollections of Potter's Raid by Allan Thigpen includes a modern picture of the home along with another picture from 1918 of Mr. and Mrs. John Ingram Brogdon. The home is located on U.S. 521 South, also known as Manning Highway, where Potter's Union troops marched to Sumter during Potter's Raid.

In March 2008, the Downers purchased the house. At that time, the house had been vacant for more than 14 years. The front roof and the porch were severely damaged, the columns were rotten, and much of the exterior of the home was covered in vines. By February of 2009, renovations were completed, and the Downer family moved into the house. Many of the original features of the home were saved, such as the banister rails on the front porch, the hand-blown glass surrounding the front door, interior porcelain door knobs, the widow's porch, wainscoting and the heart pine stairway. Other areas of the home needed to be renovated and modernized. Because much of the upper floor was burned in 1902, that part of the house was reconstructed with 8-foot ceilings unlike the bottom floor, which features the original 12-foot ceilings. Most windows, the kitchen and some other living areas needed considerable renovation to be livable. While some walls are still made with plaster, other walls have sheetrock that covers older plastered walls. Only two fireplaces remain, but both have been sealed and are not used now.

Furniture, family pictures and personal items are displayed throughout the home. Billy's Citadel dress gray uniform, mounted in a shadow box, is a centerpiece in the main hallway, along with an original hand-painted brick featuring the Padgett-Thomas Barracks on the Citadel campus. Family include a hall tree and a Duncan Phyfe table and chairs. Other notable antiques include the dining room table and chairs along with a settee in the bedroom.

Traditional Christmas decorations include a live tree and ceramic Santa Clauses hand painted by Kristi's mother, Joan Lee, of Sumter.

Not to be missed are the special trees in the yard area. A live oak, estimated to be more than 200 years old, claims its spot near the home. The limbs of this tree, one of the largest in the county, spread across the side yard. Jake's handiwork may be appreciated by admiring the old camellias around the house. A banana "bush" has become a tree near the patio, and holly bushes, too, think they are trees.

The Downers are the newest generation to live in, love and care for the 142-year-old Brogdon house.

Carmela Bryan and Michael Duffy

422 Calhoun St.

Built in 1979, the house at 422 Calhoun St. underwent significant renovations when Carmela and Michael purchased it in 2014. With the help of Randy Abbott, a local interior designer, they transformed the traditional interior of the house into a contemporary, clean setting throughout. The home also reflects the lifestyles and artistic natures of Duffy, Abbott and Bryan, who are well known in Sumter for their contributions and participation in the Sumter Little Theatre and the Sumter Cultural Center.

Upon entering the arched front doorway, one is both visually and physically drawn through the arched hallway to the off-white sofa in the sunroom with its backdrop of aquamarine water in the backyard swimming pool. With a few exceptions such as Bryan's Le Corbusier lounge chair, the furniture is not any room's sole focus. Rather, the paintings and sculpture help define the living space and encourage interesting conversations regarding the art pieces.

Duffy's original drawings are located downstairs, and his mask sculptures are placed inside and outside. Bryan, originally from Naples, Italy, has inherited many landscape and portrait oil paintings from her mother and father, both of whom were art connoisseurs and collectors of fine art. Most of these pieces are originals by Italian artists from the Tuscan School from the 19th century. Other local artworks include watercolor paintings by the late Rose Metz as well as works by Amanda Cox, Shane Edge and Abbott. Bryan found and purchased several contemporary and abstract artworks by international artists whose works have been shown at the Sumter County Gallery of Art. These artists include Michael Broadway, Wayne Thornley, Frank McCauley, Marcelo Novo and Persi Naravaez.

Although Christmas decorations are somewhat subdued, Carmela and Michael have a home that is alive with the celebration of the arts.