Friends of Porterdale host holiday tour of homes

PORTERDALE -- Friends of Porterdale will showcase some of the city's most historic and inviting structures with a Christmas in the Village Tour of Homes.

The tour is slated for Dec. 8, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 each and may be purchased at Spires, Square Perk and Brendale's on the Square in Covington, at Mayfields in Newton Plaza, and at Burnies BBQ in Porterdale.

Featured on the tour are notable older homes in the mill village as well as the more modern residences in the Porterdale Mill Lofts. Three of the town's historic churches are also on the tour.

All proceeds from the event will go toward restoration of another historic structure in the town -- the Porter Memorial Gymnasium -- which burned in 2005. The gym, which was a gift to the town of Porterdale, was nearly destroyed in the blaze, although the exterior walls are still standing.

Debra Hamby, chair of the Friends of Porterdale tour committee, said the Tour of Homes will serve a dual purpose for Porterdale -- to showcase the town to people who might not be familiar with it and to raise funds for the gym.

"I'm just really excited about the tour," she said. "I have a really good feeling about the results we are going to get. I think people are going to be interested to come and see some of the homes in Porterdale. I think of it as a positive thing to show people what can be done with a Porterdale home. With some work they can be turned into a modern, very livable place. At the same time, I'm excited to have an opportunity to raise some money for the gymnasium."

Tour guests are asked to wear comfortable shoes, particularly not those without spiked heels in order to protect wood floors. No smoking, eating, drinking or photography will be allowed in the homes, and no children under age 10 are permitted.

Shuttle vans will continually run the entire route of the tour. Guests may park and board the vans at the following parking lots: Village Inn, Presbyterian Church, Baptist Church, and City Hall. Vans will also pick up at the parking lot across from the Mill Lofts.

Properties on the tour include:

-- John Porter House, owned by Debra and Bobby Hamby. The home was built between 1898 and 1902 as the home for John Porter, son of the founder of the mill, who was supervisor of the mill village.

-- 27 N. Broad St., owned by Arline Chapman, who purchased the house in 2010. The house was built in 1916 and was designated for one of the mill supervisors.

-- Three units at Porterdale Mill Lofts, a former mill building that was transformed into lofts. The Lofts building features 154 residential units and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

-- 20 N. Broad St., Osprey Mill Superintendent's House. This house was built in the early 1900s and was one of three homes that housed senior management of the Bibb Manufacturing Co. The house features 12-foot ceilings, moldings and original heart of pine floors. The home has been owned by Tim and Kay (Kerbow) Piper for the past 22 years.

-- "Rock House" property, designed by Lowell Chambers and Melanie Sheets. The house was built in 2000 and sits high above the Yellow River, offering striking views of Cedar Shoals Dam and downtown Porterdale. The home features post and beam architecture with oak columns sawn from the trees that grew on the property where the house was built.

-- 50 S. Broad St., the home of Mary Beam Johnson and her mother, Effie Beam. This home was built around 1916 and like many homes in the mill town was originally designed as a home for two families. The house has been modified to a single-family home, but many of the original features remain.

-- Julia A. Porter Memorial Methodist Church. This church was built in 1925 in the Gothic Revival style. The church was named in honor of Julia A. Porter, whose son gave $50,000 to the building fund and asked that it be named for his mother.

-- Porterdale Baptist Church. The church was first built in Porterdale in 1832. The original building burned and was replaced by the current structure in 1929.

-- Porterdale Presbyterian Church, dedicated in March 1924. The original church was destroyed by fire in 1949 but was rebuilt and dedicated in 1950.

Friends of Porterdale is a nonprofit corporation chartered help in the restoration of the town and to raise funds to help Porterdale rebuild the historic gymnasium.