In mid-2008, a group of about 30 preservation enthusiasts came together to form Friends of the Verandah-Curlee House in Corinth. The historic home, which served as headquarters for several generals during the Civil War, had developed serious structural problems, particularly with the roof and foundation.
The group decided to have a first-ever Christmas tour of homes to raise money for the restoration and preservation of the house. Five brownstones were selected for the event and the plans were in place. Then two families backed out.
“So we retrenched and planned a tour for spring,” said Bill Avery, one of the organizers. “We knew we wanted one particular home on the tour – the old Creary-Liddon Home. This young couple had bought it and restored it and everyone in town wanted to see the interior. But we thought there was no way she was going to open that house to us.”
Avery was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of the home’s owners, Tammi and Randy Frazier.
“She said she’d happily be on the tour,” Avery said. “She said, ‘As much as we spent to restore this house, I’ll gladly give of it to have another old house restored.'”
The Frazier Home, as it’s now called, as well as the Carriage House located behind it, will both be open to the public Saturday, April 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available at several downtown businesses as well as at the door of both homes.
The day also will play host to a silent auction of 60 pieces of original artwork by local artists; a bake sale called Sweets amp& Things, featuring homemade cakes, cookies, pies and breads; and a garden center called Greens amp& Things, where plants, wreaths, garden ornaments and birdhouses will be sold.
“I’m hoping for 20,000 people to come through the homes,” Avery said. “We probably won’t get that, but we’ll get the bulk of Corinth. What I’m looking for is Florence, Tupelo, Holly Springs, Pontotoc, New Albany, Jackson, Tenn., Fulton and Amory. We’d like to make between $100,000 and $150,000.”
All proceeds benefit the 152-year-old Verandah-Curlee House, which needs a new roof, foundation repair and floor work.
Tammi Frazier said she didn’t think twice when she was approached about putting her 100-year-old home, which is filled with antiques, on the tour.
“We saved this house, and there are lots of things people asked us to do that didn’t seem as important as saving another old home,” she said.
The couple bought the home in 2001 and set about having it restored. Woodwork had turned black from years of coal burning fireplaces, paint was peeling, and wiring and plumbing were out of date. And as large as the home was – 14 rooms, three baths, two large halls, a cellar and a large attic – the Fraziers needed a bit more living space for their family, which includes four children.
So they added a large family room, breakfast room and mudroom onto the back of the house and incorporated more bathrooms and a home theater on the second floor. They turned the third floor attic into a kids’ playroom.
“We bought older pieces from salvage shops to make the addition look as old as possible,” Tammi Frazier said. “The double-doors in the family room came from a monastery. The door going into the mudroom is from a bell tower.”
But the 11,000-square-foot home with front and back staircases is not without 21st-century amenities.
“Our goal was to put in modern-day conveniences and still preserve the integrity of the old house,” said Randy Frazier, an orthopedic surgeon. He has a control room on the second floor that operates lighting, cameras and security in the house, among other things.
“In the pantry, he has the lights set to where they come on when I walk in there,” Tammi Frazier said. “Sometimes, if in there for a few minutes and not moving around, the lights will go out and I’ll be standing there in the dark. I have to do this little dance to get them to come back on.”
The other home on the tour is the Carriage House, which is located behind the Frazier Home. The home, owned by Tootie and Bob Willhelm, was built around 1909 to store carriages used to transport the Crearys, original owners of the Frazier Home.
“We used to live in Selma, Ala., and we had a house on tour there,” said Tootie Willhelm. “It was fun and we wanted to do it again.”
The Willhelms bought their home in 2005 and have filled it with family antiques and pieces she has collected through the years.
“I’m a big collector of Blue Willow and Flow Blue china,” she said. “I probably have 200 pieces of Blue Willow.”
For more information about the tours, call (662) 415-1999 or visit www.corinthhometour.org.
Ginna Parsons/Daily Journal