Enfield Christmas Homes Tour offered more than expected


Patsy Pridgen


Life Columnist

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Adding something new to my holiday calendar, I spent a Saturday in early December attending the 2018 Christmas Homes Tour sponsored by DERP.

That’s the Downtown Enfield Restoration and Preservation group, but don’t let the word Enfield fool you; by the time I toured the six featured homes, I’d been all over Halifax County.

I’m not complaining. Riding around on two-lane blacktops was good medicine for an old country girl like me. My daughter went along, and we had a lot of laughs searching for the featured homes, especially the ones with a Tillery address. I’d never been to Tillery and still can’t say that I have, but I did find the two houses close to Tillery. With no help from my GPS, I might add, which didn’t recognize Tillery as a valid address.

The scavenger hunt for the homes was well worth the effort. I expected houses named Gray Hall, Shell Castle, Bellamy Manor, Branch Grove, Glenn Burnie and Conoconnara Hall to be big and rambling and come with a history, and they didn’t disappoint.

For example, Gray Hall was built circa 1820 and was once used as the main building in a school for girls. Shell Castle, built in 1790, supposedly derived its name from the oyster shells used to make mortar or plaster for this imposing house. Each home had such a story.

For a Christmas tour, the houses were authentically decorated with garlands, wreaths and arrangements featuring magnolia leaves, cedar sprigs and nandina clippings. It was all so understated and spoke of a simpler time.

During the course of the tour, I noticed a Mayberry-type sense of community that also hearkened to days gone by. Scattered though they are, these Halifax County/Enfield folks all seemed to know one another. And everyone was so friendly. Inquiring about lunch options, we were told that since the local deli had closed, boxed lunches with homemade chicken salad croissants were for sale. And there was a complimentary soup table where we picked up a hearty bowl of homemade Brunswick stew.

My daughter and I began our day in Enfield and ended our tour near Medoc Mountain. Our biggest mistake, which became our biggest laugh of the day, occurred as we were trying to locate a home off N.C. 481. We’d plugged in the address but when the GPS told us we were there, all we saw was a dirt road with no house in sight. “Sometimes these old homes are up a lane hidden behind trees,” my daughter said, urging me to turn in the farm path.

We drove my non-four-wheel-drive Buick up a muddy dirt road for a half mile before I decided to turn around rather than get stuck. Fortunately, we made it back to the main highway, but my car looked like I’d been mud-slinging. We discovered the house a short distance away, up a maintained gravel driveway.

Not too many Christmas open houses come with a county tour including an off-road driving experience, free Brunswick stew and an authentic taste of small-town living. Those folks in Enfield sure know how to entertain.

Check out Patsy Pridgen’s blog at www.patsypridgen.com.