Enfield Christmas Homes Tour

The Cellar is the former home of Gov. John Branch and will be featured on the seventh annual Enfield Christmas Homes Tour.

Downtown Enfield Restoration and Preservation will be holding its annual Christmas in Enfield weekend.

If you love Santa, history, art, crafts, homes tours and oysters, Enfield is the place to visit on Dec. 6-8.

On Friday, DERP will host an evening in Town Square, including a tree lighting, Santa visit, dramatic Christmas reading, festive music and free soup, hot chocolate and cookies.

On Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., stop by the Art Show. Charles Philip Brooks curated the work and the show will feature art by Ashlynn Browning, Allison Coleman, Chieko Murasugi, Elin O’Hara Slavick, Greg Higgins, Jeremy Sams, John W. High, Jr., Julia Caston, Laurie Gayle, Meredith Haggerty, Michael Mosca, Myra Wirtz, Richard Thomas Scott, Sarah Faris, Sara Farrington, Thony Aiuppy, Tristin Miller, TJ Cunningham, Vanessa Murray. The work will be on display at the Collective Center, located at 131 Whitfield Street, until December 12. As part of the EPAC Contemporary Art Series, this series features new work by artists who are exhibiting in Eastern North Carolina for the first time. In addition to the Art Show, the Collective Center will also host an Artisan Fair, Festival of Trees and a children’s craft time.

The Christmas Homes Tour takes place from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets can be purchase at Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts or Southern Secrets ahead of time and also purchased the day of the tour at the Collective Center. A prayer service will be held at 4 p.m. at the Historic Episcopal Church of the Advent at 200 Batchelor Ave. This will be followed by an Oyster Roast, which will be hosted at The Cellar at 5:30 (tickets sold separately from Homes Tour tickets).

Throughout the weekend, a 50/50 raffle will be held with proceeds being split between the winner and DERP. Tickets are $10.

The 2019 Christmas Homes Tour features five homes: Strawberry Hill, The Hoosier House, Halifax Lane Farm, The Whitaker House and The Cellar. All have been restored and two of the homes date back to the Revolutionary War era. As Mayor Wayne Anderson said in reference to the Christmas Homes Tour, “You don’t really own these homes. You take care of them for the next generation — hoping that they, too will preserve these special places.”

DERP sponsored Enfield’s first homes tour in December 2013.

Enfield is proud of its history. One of the homes on the tour this year was owned by a former North Carolina governor. The Cellar — also known as the Lafayette House — is a historic home that dates to the early 19th century. Lt. Col. John Branch Sr., who fought in the American Revolutionary War, left a 600-acre property called “The Cellar” (and also “The Cellar Field”) to his son, Joseph, in his will. Joseph moved to Tennessee and John Branch Jr. bought the Cellar property from his brother.

John Branch Jr. lived in Enfield when he was not politically tied to other areas of the country. John Branch Jr. became the governor of North Carolina, the governor of the Florida Territories, a U.S. Senator and eventually Secretary of the Navy under Andrew Jackson. This home is also known as the Lafayette House because Marquis de Lafayette returned to the U.S. on a grand tour in 1825 and it is believed that Lafayette visited the Branch residence and addressed the crowds that gathered from the home’s second-floor balcony. John Branch Jr. is buried in Enfield’s Elmwood Cemetery.

The Oyster Roast will be hosted at The Cellar at 5:30 p.m. Tickets sold separately.

The following day, Sunday, the annual Christmas service at Whitaker’s Chapel, a Heritage Landmark of the United Methodist Church and a site on the National Register of Historic Places, will be held at 3 p.m. The Chapel is celebrating its 279th anniversary this year.

Downtown Enfield Restoration and Preservation is dedicated to preserving Enfield’s rich history and revitalizing the downtown area. The organization has been very active. Most recently, in 2019, the nonprofit organization sponsored the ninth annual Enfield Fishing Creek Paddle; a Bless Your Art Show and Gala and a New Year’s Eve celebration. In addition, four new Crepe Myrtle trees were planted in the Town Square with new irrigation and additional design plans are in the works for the square. The organization also just purchased new receptacles for the downtown sidewalks.