Wildwood’s Historic Buildings Open Doors for Holiday Tour

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WILDWOOD — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Especially throughout Wildwood. And to help get everyone into a holiday frame of mind, several historic houses and churches will throw open their doors to share the spirit of the season along with a glimpse of magnificent holiday décor in each venue.

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The holiday extravaganza that showcases historical buildings throughout the city will be held Dec. 6 from 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. and is free to the public. Included in the tour are bed and breakfasts such as the Holly Beach B & B, Summer Nites B & B and Candlelight Inn. Two churches, Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity and St. Simeon’s by the Sea Episcopal Church will be open for the evening.

Lighthouse lovers can begin their evening at Hereford Inlet Lighthouse to partake in its annual holiday tree lighting. History buffs can find their way to the Wildwood Historical Society to enjoy rooms filled to the rafters will all things Wildwood.

According to Nancy Karl, the tour has grown since its inaugural event in 2010. “This year we’ve added the churches,” she said, “along with the addition of another bed and breakfast.”

A constant on each year’s tour, however, is the historic J. Thompson Baker National Historic House. Owned by the Wildwood Civic Club, the home, built in 1904, has seen more than a century of Wildwood Christmases. This year, as part of the tour, visitors to the Baker House will not only be treated to historically appropriate decorations throughout the home, but will be treated to holiday songs sung by the Glenwood Avenue Elementary School Choir as well as the Wildwood High School Choir.

The tour is self-guided, said Karl. Tour takers can walk from venue to venue, drive, or catch a free ride on Wildwood’s famous Dolly the Trolley. Ample free parking is available on the street as well in those venues with parking lots.

“You can do whatever you’d like to do,” Karl said, noting participants can tour at their leisure.

Tour guides will be available in each house and church to assist in learning the nuances of each building’s history. According to Karl, each room of every house on the tour will be decorated as well as the main sanctuaries of both churches.

Coordinated and manned entirely by volunteers, the tour, which is free and open to all ages, is not geared to fundraising, however donations are accepted. Refreshments will not be sold on the tour, however Karl noted most venues offer tour takers a treat along their way.

Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano encouraged everyone to participate in the holiday tour. “It’s always a good idea to support those who try to keep our community alive, not just during the summer but especially during the winter months,” said the mayor. “These owners and volunteers work hard to maintain these historic properties and it’s nice to support their efforts, especially during the holidays.”

“Last year we were just amazed at the number of people we had coming through the Baker House,” noted Karl. She said more than 60 visitors made their way to the big white house that sits at 3008 Atlantic Avenue.

While one house will offer choirs, another, the Holly Beach B &B will offer a model train display. Visitors to the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity may enjoy the church’s bell choir, which will play throughout the evening.

“There’s something for everyone,” said Karl, noting one purpose of the evening, aside from holiday fun, is to showcase the history scattered throughout the city. “We do it for the community,” said Karl.

Information about the 3rd Annual Holiday House and Church Tour can be obtained by calling Karl at 609-522-3639 or Cathy Junke at 609-522-0060.