Six historic Garden District homes are getting gussied up for the 37th annual Holiday Home Tour, to benefit the Preservation Resource Center.
Michael Murphy has lived at his Prytania Street house for 11 years, and is preparing to open it to an admiring public.
“The house was built in 1846 — started in 1846 — and finished in 1849," Murphy said. "It was originally part of the city of Lafayette, and the owners had four lots here on Prytania Street, and one went all the way to Sixth Street. And then, over the years, they started parceling off land as the owners came and went. And it is today a single-family home.”
The 11,250 square-foot house had been cut up into fifteen apartments. Murphy says it’s been a rewarding — and challenging — task to bring it into the 21st century.
“It’s worth it to get the right craftsmen in there to say ‘These are the heart-pine floors that they used. These are the original moldings from the 1880s that were put in.’ And to get the history of it is — that’s the joy that I get out of it,” Murphy said.
Murphy says he’s been on earlier Holiday Home Tours and enjoys seeing how the old can blend with the new. He describes his home as having old-world style with modern bells and whistles.
PRC spokeswoman Katherine Raymond says the home tour is planned for months. About 4,000 people are expected to come on the tours over the two days. It’s the group’s largest fund-raising event of the year.
“Over 90 cents of every dollar contributed goes back into the mission of restoring New Orleans historic architecture and neighborhoods," Raymond said. "So this is a very important event. And the money goes to some wonderful causes, like Rebuilding Together and other programs and workshops and efforts that the PRC does that are very well-known in New Orleans.”
Murphy had a few ornaments displayed in the main central hall. Five-foot Nutcracker soldiers guard the entrance. More boxes were coming in with an eclectic collection that creates the full holiday experience.
“People will be coming up the front steps, right in through the front door," he said. "For the Home Tour they can come in straight into the formal living room off to the right, and walk straight through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen... or they can stay right in the hallway and come back through again. And that’s the greatness
of having a central hall, is you can go off to either side if you need to, or you can go straight down the center, come down through the kitchen and just hit any you room you want to at any given point.”
The tour of all six homes, and a bonus residence, is estimated to take about four hours. It can also be done over Saturday and Sunday, December 8 and 9. It begins at the Trinity Episcopal Church.
More information is available on the PRC website.