Friday, January 31, 2020

A Victorian Christmas Lunch and Tour of Historic Homes

Back in December, my friend Liz (of The Pragmatic Costumer) and I were looking for some sort of holiday costume event to fill the void where our canceled trip to Dickens lived. Another local costume group came to the rescue with their annual Victorian Lunch & Gingerbread Tour of Homes!

First off, this event was fabulous, and I had an amazing time. I even finished my dress! Liz and I were both up until about 2:30 in the morning finishing our outfits, so we kept texting each other progress reports and keeping each other on track (and awake). I didn't have any closures in the dress, but I did manage to finish everything else! I eventually sat down after the event and added all the hooks and eyes, which is a milestone for me, as most of the time I would have just left it alone after the event was over!

Getting up at 7 after going to bed at 3 was NOT FUN, but we had plenty of time to dress and do hair/makeup, and we even made it to the restaurant early. We even beat the employees! Since the restaurant is an 1890s house that's been converted, it's right in the middle of a Victorian neighborhood. Right as we got out of the car, some rando who was walking down the street looked at us and said "THEY SAY IT'S HAUNTED!" Yes....okay. "I live four houses down and have never been in, but they say it's SUPER HAUNTED." Neat, cool, yeah, we just want lunch. If there were any ghosts in the dining room, I was too tired and hungry to notice.

Super haunted
We took our extra time to walk around and look at the pretty houses, and take some pics. Liz helped me get some shots for my next YouTube video, which was a huge help, and it meant that I got to see my own dress in action, which almost never happens! It was especially useful since when I got home and went over the video I took, I discovered that a lot of the times I was hitting stop when I meant to hit record, and vice versa, so I had a lot of video of people's feet, and not as much of the houses as I thought I had. -_- That's what happens when you're sleep deprived!

We had a pretty sizable group for the event. I think we had about 10 people in total, and I got to meet some new people. Lunch was good, if a bit overpriced. I had the chicken fried steak, which was very good, but not $20 good. Oh well. The company was fantastic, the conversation never lulled, and we all had plenty of laughs and good stories.

We had to go to the old courthouse to pick up the tickets for the tour, so we headed there after lunch. We picked up our tickets, spent some time taking pics and video around the old courthouse, and hanging out with the rest of the group, who has stopped in at the old ice cream shop for a cherry phosphate.

The tour started in the old courthouse, which has just undergone restoration. It was completed in 1897, and there were all sorts of fabulous details in it, like plaster moldings and original floors. They had one room, which used to be a vault, that they turned into a fireproof library/records room, which is brilliant. How many times do you hear "Oh, all the old records were lost in a fire"? We got to see all the old courtrooms and offices, and they had preserved some old painted signs on the walls behind glass, which was really neat. There were even some old bullet holes in the doors where there had been a shootout in the 20s! There was a balcony over courtroom 2 that was last used to announce the death of Bonny and Clyde - they had kept an apartment in town and were well known by the townspeople.

The first house was a bungalow from 1915. The owners didn't give us any history of the house, and it was small but comfortable. There wasn't anything hugely exciting about the house, but I did like the spine and pelvis hanging out in the back office.

The second house was from 1900, and it's probably one of my favorites. The couple that owned it had been stationed in Japan for 6 years, so their house was full of Japanese antiques. They had all sorts of things from their travels displayed around the house, and it was so much the way I imagined my own someday-house to be, that it hit my particular happy place. I was mostly filming, so didn't get any pics in the house, except for some mirror selfies and this pretty Christmas decoration made from an obi.

House 3 was also fabulous - it started as a four-room house in the 1850s (the house on the right was across the street and was a "twin" to the original house), was renovated and expanded to an Italianate style house in the 1870s, and in 1903 it was renovated again into a colonial revival (current house is on the left). It was gorgeous inside, with curly pine accents and fretwork, and a fabulous parlor and dining room. It was so incredibly lovely! The next two houses were smaller - a 1951 mid-century modern that was designed for the original owner by a former student of hers, and a 1920s craftsman which was small but comfy. The last house was only letting in groups of 10-12 at at time, so I think we actually spent more time standing in line than actually touring the house.

All of these houses were so warm. It was 70 degrees out, and with all the people and no air conditioning running, it was incredibly warm. I had a case of water in the trunk of the car, and we downed a couple of bottles during the day, but I still ended up dehydrated.

At this point, Liz and I were both so exhausted that we headed out. The rest of the group had plans to go to the Christmas market afterward and get dinner, but we just had no steam left. I went home and discovered I was covered in dirt (we had been boxed in to a side street by a funeral procession, so we parked the car and walked between all the houses, which were NOT close together), so I took a nice hot shower and then crashed into bed.

I had figured that I would enjoy the event, but I didn't think it would be just as fun as it was. I'm definitely on board to do this again next year!

You can see more of the houses, the restaurant, and everyone's fabulous costumes in my video about the outing!


  1. I really want to do this next year! Waxahachie is my favorite Victorian town and I've been going there for the home tours for about 40+ years. My first (late) husband's grandmother owned the house to the left of the Catfish Plantation for many years and we would always schedule visits in time with the tours. I remember going inside that house when it was vacant. And we even painted a Victorian home we owned the very same colors as the Catfish Plantation! Oh, and a really good place to eat is The Dove's Nest, a tearoom downtown. Their Apricot Chicken Salad is fabulous! You usually have a bit of a wait during home tours as it's very popular and I don't know if they take reservations or not. I really enjoyed your video and hope next year, I'll get to join you all!
    Susan Kellam

    1. I hope you get to come next time! It was so fun. :D I'll definitely have to check out the tearoom, I love a good chicken salad!