Historic figures come to life for garden tour

PARKERSBURG – The history of West Virginia was honored this past weekend during the annual Victorian Spring Home Garden Tour and Tea in the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.

Over 200 visitors walked through the district Saturday and Sunday looking at the historic homes and the gardens that the current owners have cultivated.

Homes on the tour this year included the Boreman-Bragg House, 1201 Juliana St.; Bekurs Chafin House, 1035 Ann St.; Van Winkle-Herceg House, 112 13th St.; McCandlish-Leonard House, 1121 Ann St.; Bishop Peterkin-DeKlavon House, 1203 Ann St.; Ball House, 1204 Juliana St.; Burkett House, 1122 Ann St.; Dis Debar Carriage House, Franklin Alley and 12th Street; and Van Winkle-Wix House, 1209 Ann St.

In commemoration of West Virginia’s 150th birthday this year, some of the residents in the district dressed up as local historical dignitaries and talked about their contributions to the state, people such as Gov. Arthur I. Boreman, Gov. W.E. Stephens, Sen. Peter Van Winkle and Joseph H. Dis Debar, the creator of West Virginia’s State Seal.

Judith Smith, one of the tour organizers, said the tours went well throughout the weekend. Her house was on the tour.

“Our theme is 150 years of statehood in West Virginia,” she said. “I am featuring the Greenbrier china and the Greenbrier table and chairs, the rhododendron which is our state flower and I have decorated with that.

“I think the tour has been a great success.”

Smith had received calls from interested people from all over the state and other areas. People attended the tour from West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and elsewhere on Saturday and Sunday.

“I hope visitors have an appreciation for our great state of West Virginia,” she said. “We had the movers and shakers, the founding fathers of the state who lived right here.”

Darian and Judy Lorentz, of Belpre, came to appreciate the work that went into building some of the historical homes.

“I love Victorian homes,” Judy Lorentz said. “I think they have the most beautiful architecture ever created.

“We take advantage of the tours to see how beautiful it all is. We love these homes.”

Darian Lorentz appreciates the work that went into them.

“I wanted to see the change from years gone by to today,” he said. “It is sometimes amazing how they did their architecture work with fewer tools than what we have today. It is so different.”

Mark Lewis, president of the Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, said a lot of people who took advantage of the garden tour who also attended the Taste of Parkersburg on Saturday.

“I think there is a great opportunity to market this as a great weekend getaway with two-night overnight stays,” he said. “People can come down do the Taste event Friday, come here Saturday afternoon for the tour and the Taste event Saturday night , maybe even get them out to Blennerhassett Island.”

Lewis credited the homeowners in the Julia Ann Square Historic District with putting on an inviting event that makes everyone feel welcome.

“Everyone in the area needs to come out and see this,” he said.

Mary Whitlock, of Parkersburg, came to the tour with her husband, Bud.

“I love going on the tour and seeing the gardens,” she said. “I just love them.”