There's no place like home for the holidays, especially when it is a grand old Kentucky mansion you don't have to clean or decorate.
More than a dozen old houses, churches and public buildings in Mercer and Scott counties will be on tour next weekend. Plus, there will be candlelight tours and children's activities at the circa 1848 Waveland mansion in Lexington.
This is the 23rd year for the Harrodsburg Historical Society's Holiday Home Tour on Dec. 6. In addition to tours of seven Mercer County properties, there will be a mapped driving tour of the Salvisa community.
The Queen Anne-style Coleman House is owned by former state Rep. Jack Coleman and his wife, Cala. Before he bought it, Coleman didn't know that his great-grandfather, Clell Coleman, a state auditor and agriculture commissioner, once lived in the 1880 brick-and-shingle mansion.
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The Colemans have completed a restoration started by previous owners, adding their own special touches. A former porch was converted into a long, cozy kitchen with flooring salvaged from Lexington tobacco warehouses.
The attic was turned into a Western-themed den honoring Cala Coleman's grandparents, a cowboy and postmistress in Utah. The oak postal cabinet she used now stands behind a bar.
"Everything is from our families," Coleman said of the extensive antique collection in the house, which they plan to open next year as a bed-and-breakfast. "We say we're the keepers of the stuff."
Mercer County Judge-Executive John Trisler and his wife, Kay, have done extensive work on their Greek Revival farmhouse off Kirkwood Road, which dates to the 1830s and maybe earlier. They added a new kitchen and den on the back, making the elegant old place a more comfortable place to live.
Warwick, the former estate of the renowned architectural historian Clay Lancaster, will be included in the tour. The compound includes the circa 1809 Moses Jones House and two architectural "follies" Lancaster built, a tea house and a guest house based on the ancient Tower of the Winds in Athens, Greece.
Another unique property is Diamond Point, an elaborate Greek Revival structure that has been renovated as Harrodsburg's welcome center and offices for the chamber of commerce, tourism bureau and two other local agencies.
Other stops are the circa 1850 McGee House on Jackson Pike; the 1881 Salvisa Christian Church; and Old Mud Meeting House, built in 1800 that is one the last remaining pioneer log churches in Central Kentucky.
Maps are available for a self-guided driving tour of other Salvisa-area historic homes that will not be open that day.
On Dec. 7, the Scott County Arts & Cultural Center will have its Tour of Historic Homes, featuring six properties in downtown Georgetown.
The tour is a fundraiser to restore one of Georgetown's most interesting buildings: a Romanesque Revival jail built in 1892. Plans call for it to become an expansion of the Arts & Cultural Center now located in the adjacent old jailer's house.
Two of the properties on tour are stately mansions built before the Civil War: the early 1800s Cantrill House beside the Georgetown College campus; and Walnut Hill, a Greek Revival-style mansion built as the summer home of James McHatton, who once owned eight plantations along the Mississippi River.
Beside Walnut Hill is a large, 1888 Italianate villa whose unusual double front door features four busts of big-busted women.
Georgetown's 1899 City Hall, which like the Scott County Courthouse beside it is one of Central Kentucky's most elegant old public buildings, will be part of the tour. So will Holy Trinity Church Episcopal, a Gothic Revival structure with a stone façade and red doors that has been in use since 1870.
The best option for parents with young children who want some history with their holidays may be the candlelight tours at Waveland State Historic Site, off Nicholasville Road just south of Man O' War Boulevard.
In addition to decorations at the circa 1848 Greek Revival mansion, school choirs will perform and Santa will read stories and visit with children.