The Crowe-Garritt House at 172 East Crowe Street in Hanover is new to this year’s Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes. Tours will be held Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 30-Dec. 1. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
The Crowe-Garritt House at 172 East Crowe Street in Hanover is new to this year’s Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes. Tours will be held Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 30-Dec. 1. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Several area homes and historic sites will be open for the annual Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes next weekend and the following weekend.

The 31st annual event will be Fridays, Nov. 23 and 30, and Saturdays, Nov. 24 and Dec. 1. Each home will be decorated in a style that reflects the homeowner's holiday celebrations, Marci Jones with VisitMadison Inc. said.

"People like to see the houses decorated a lot for Christmas," Jones said, but the homes also reflect the tastes of the families. "Some are going to decorate more than others."

Tour hours take place from 5 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and 3 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays. There are no Sunday tours.

This year the event has expanded from downtown Madison to include two homes in Hanover - the President's Residence at Hanover College and the Crowe-Garritt home. Jones said Hanover College President Sue DeWine had discussed featuring the home on the tour previously, but the tour dates didn't work out.

"Sometimes people will call me up and offer their homes," Jones said. "Sometimes I see houses that would be nice."

Eight sites in Madison are on the tour including: The Lanier Mansion, Jefferson County Historical Society, the Schussler home, the Tonkin home, the Kirk-Webster-Dorsey home, the Liter home, the Schofield House and the Shrewsbury-Windle home.

St. John's United Church of Christ will also be open for the tour. The church will offer visitors a place to warm up and to enjoy Christmas carolers.

"The public sites stay the same (most years)," Jones said. "We try to feature new (private homes) every year."

Three hospitality sites - the Science Center at Hanover College, the Seifert-Short Folk Art and Doll Museum, and the former Eggleston Elementary School building - will allow visitors to get a light refreshment and warm up from the outside temperatures. These sites also will be restroom stops.

Visitors are asked not to eat, drink or smoke at any of the tour sites. Also, no large handbags or backpacks will be allowed on the tour. Organizers ask that visitors refrain from taking photos and videos of the homes as well. No pets will be allowed on the tour.

Jones suggested that visitors wear comfortable footwear, as some homeowners might ask visitors to remove their shoes or use plastic booties while in the home. No spiked heels will be allowed on the tour.

Most older homes in Madison feature two stories and stairs, and most homes on the tour this year will have two levels decorated for visitors.

"It's not really a handicapped-accessible tour," she said.

Tickets for the tour will be good for all four tour dates, but each home may only be visited once. Homes may be toured in any order, Jones said.

Hospitality sites and St. John's United Church of Christ can be be visited multiple times during the weekends.

Tickets cost $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 15, and are available at the Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St.; the Madison Chamber and Economic Development, 301 W. Main St.; Something Simple, 217 E. Main St.; River Valley Financial Bank, 430 Clifty Drive; and online at www.visitmadison.org. Online orders have a $1 processing fee and can be picked up at the Visitors Center, which will be the tour headquarters. Ticket purchases are non-refundable.

"The Great Cookie Caper" event held during the tour will feature homemade cookies and other sweets for sale at the Visitors Center. The Cookie Caper will begin an hour before the tours at 4 p.m. on Fridays and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays. All proceeds from the Cookie Caper will be donated to Jefferson County's Big Brothers Big Sisters program.