Oaks Historic District’s house tour set for Dec. 12

Weldene Smith shows off her mother’s ornaments that are 80-years old.

Festive lights, angels, trees and candles in the window to welcome visitors will be the order of the day in Beaumont this weekend.

The Oaks Historic District Neighborhood Association will host the Homes for the Holidays open house, 3 to 7 p.m., on Sunday. The event will feature four historic homes, located at 2380 Long, 2550 Long, 2405 Ashley and 2490 Ashley, which are decorated for the holidays. Tickets are $25, and the first 100 people will receive decorated sugar cookies.

The Smith home features candles in the window, a northeastern tradition.

Weldene Smith said her design aesthetic stems from growing up in Pennsylvania, incorporating traditional candles in the window.

“My home is very much eclectic and period. It’s not country, it’s not Texan,” she said. “The candles in all the windows are something you don’t see much here. In the East, in Northeast especially, it’s a very common practice. It’s a bit of a colonial, and I’ve done that for years and years and years and years and years.”

The centerpiece of Smith’s decorations is a Christmas tree that features a variety of ornaments, each of which incorporates a memory.

Graeme and Weldene Smith

“I have my mother’s first tree ornaments — they’re 80-years old,” she said. “I have all the ornaments from when I was a child. And every year I buy a Santa Claus with the idea that when my grandchildren get older, I’ll give them the Santa.

Husband Graeme said his contribution to the project is simply to supply the manual labor.

“I have always believed that the house belongs to the woman,” he said, smiling. “She says I just do whatever is needed.”

One thing visitors will not see in the Smith home is Jesus in the manger. Weldene has a Nativity scene in the hall, but the manger is empty and the wise men are in a separate room.

“My Nativity develops with Christmas and Christmas morning, then we have Jesus,” she said “The little wise men are in this room because they don’t get there until January 6th. I don’t take any decorations down until after epiphany.”

Weldene Smith’s vintage manger stays empty until Christmas Day.

Judith Cobbett and Dean Tucker’s house is overwhelmingly red, which gives it a festive air, and the decorations match Judith’s interest.

“I collect antique French furniture and have for maybe 30 years, 40 years,” Judith said. “So, I try to keep an antique feeling of decorations.”

Judith Cobbett and Dean Tucker

Judith said she spends about two weeks decorating the house and does all the arrangements herself. And when she looks for ornaments, she looks for unusual and ornate objects that fit the red color scheme. She said she is looking forward to hosting visitors.

“I’ve been here for over 20 years, and I love decorating for Christmas, so I felt like it was another way for other people to enjoy my decorations,” she said.

Judith Cobbett shows off a wax angel that is 55-years old.

Visitors should be sure to check out a vintage wax angel that dates to the 1960s. Judith bought it when her daughter was five-years old. It’s still in good shape, although it’s lost a finger. Apart from the kitchen, which is Santa-centric, there is at least one angel in every room.

In what appears to be a consistent theme, Dean said his role is just as a helper, hanging lights and moving things around.

“I’m the worker and she’s the brains — I just do what she says,” he said.

Apart from the homes tour, Judith has another reason for putting so much effort into the holiday decorations.

Judith Cobbett and her Christmas tree.

“My whole family’s coming for Christmas — my daughter, my granddaughters, my great granddaughters,” she said. “So, it’s going to be an exciting Christmas.”

As well as the “Homes for the Holidays’ tour, the Chambers House Museum and the McFaddin-Ward House Museum, both located in the historic district, will host free open houses on the same day, between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

The Oaks Historic District is the largest historic district in Texas, and money raised will be used for civic projects. In the past, the organization has contributed to the Ida Reed Dog Park, sponsorship of the City of Beaumont’s Dogtoberfest, an annual scholarship for local college students, the art bike racks along Calder and several Little Free Libraries.

Tickets are available online at theoakshomesfortheholidays.eventbrite.com. Homes for the Holidays tickets are also available at the Chambers House and McFaddin-Ward House. For more details, visit the oakshistoricdistrict Facebook page.

This story first ran in the Dec. 10, 2021 Art of Living section of The Beaumont Enterprise.

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