The Woman’s Club of McLean’s Holiday Homes Tour, now in its 49th year, is nearly as old as the club itself, starting up in 1966 as a fundraiser for the various charities that the club supports.
The 49th Annual Holiday Homes Tour is being held on Thursday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
According to Kay Burnell, a former co-chair of the Holiday Homes Tour, the Woman’s Club of McLean started about seven or eight years prior to the creation of the tour, which gives attendees a chance to check out choice McLean estates.
“They were trying to raise money for the charities we donate to,” Burnell said. “Because the primary purpose of our organization is to help our community. And so they were doing bake sales and they were doing this and that to raise money and they couldn’t raise very much.”
That’s when one of the members of the Woman’s Club of McLean suggested a Christmas-themed holiday homes tour. Burnell said that the tour had humble beginnings.
“It started kind of small. I don’t think they sold ads in the ticket book, it was just like four pages or something and they printed it themselves. Now we have them printed,” Burnell said. “And it caught on and we’ve been doing it all these years.”
Funds raised through the Holiday Homes Tour, which usually features four homes located in one to three McLean neighborhoods, supports organizations like Alternative House, Fisher House Foundation, the Wounded Warrior program, Capital Caring, Share, Inc., the McLean Symphony, the McLean Project for the Arts and the McLean Volunteer Fire Department and is used for scholarships and educational causes.
A boutique or marketplace is hosted as part of the tour at a nearby church to raise additional funds for local organizations.
According to one estimate, approximately $21,000 was raised last year through the Holiday Homes Tour.
The homes featured in this year’s tour are located in three McLean neighborhoods – McLean Hundred, Woodside Estates and Millwood. The honorary host of this year’s tour is Bill DuBose, a McLean financial planner and advisor.
“The homes are nice and they’re big. They’re all fairly modern,” said Laura Sheridan, a member of the Woman’s Club of McLean. “They’re reasonably close to each other. We usually try to find ones that are easy for people to get around to.”
According to a press release sent out about the event, the three neighborhoods are distinguished by large, elegant houses on half- to one-acre lots and are easily accessible from Lewinsville Road and other major streets.
The homes will be festively decorated in accordance with the homeowners’ wishes and music of the season will be featured in some homes or nearby.
The two homes in the McLean Hundred neighborhood are large homes of conservative design, built in the late ‘90s, but are strikingly different from each other, the release said.
One of the houses has a light-colored exterior with beautiful but restrained landscaping and looks out on a busy intersection, while the other house has a long, red-brick exterior shaded by large, old trees and sits on a cul-de-sac with a small park.
The house with the light-colored exterior has undergone major changes, including the addition of a bedroom, a second kitchen, extra fireplaces and a new walkout basement.
It also contains many antique furnishings and rugs, custom draperies and fine artwork.
The other McLean Hundred house has undergone major alterations as well, the release said, in part to create a sense of space on the home’s interior, with the addition and expansion of multiple windows and doors.
The foyer and first floor rooms were extensively remodeled and are said to suggest contemporary California style. The home reflects an eclectic taste in original art, including photography by the homeowner.
Another of the homes on the Holiday Homes Tour is located in Woodside Estates, about a half-mile west of one of the homes in the McLean Hundred neighborhood. The Woodside Estates home has a large, brick-and-stone facade and is sited on an attractively landscaped 1.2-acre lot, according to the release.
The facade of the house uses conventional architectural elements in an unusual way and the resulting shape seems complemented by the undulating landscaping. The Woodside Estates home is another case of a newer home – this home was built in 2005 – being expanded and augmented, the release said.
Additional bedrooms and baths were installed to give the house a total of six bedrooms and six full and three half-baths.
A sizeable recreation room was also built into the house, a 368-square-foot swimming pool was added in the back and a pool house was constructed.
The fourth house in the Holiday Homes Tour, located in Millwood, is located just off Swinks Mill Road and, the release said, it is perhaps the largest of the tour houses, with over 15,000 finished square feet on four levels.
The house has a symmetrical facade, but an unusual window and roof configuration, giving the home a contemporary feel.
There is a two-story atrium foyer with steps on either side of a fountain to an upper lobby and stairs to the next level. The main level also has a large lobby and a formal living room and dining room.
There is an elevator in the house that serves three levels. The home has five bedrooms, three of which are master suites. There is a large recreation room with a full kitchen and a 1,250 square-foot outdoor pool with an adjacent full bath.
The format of the tour is similar to an open house, allowing attendees to go from one house to the next in whatever order they please.
This year, the Homes Tour Boutique will be held at Historic Pleasant Grove Church, located at 8641 Lewinsville Road, about a quarter-mile west of one of the McLean Hundred homes.
The boutique will feature holiday items, a variety of gifts, jewelry, scarves, handbags, drinks and desserts, baked goods, tour tickets and a silent auction.
An immense amount of work goes into the Holiday Homes Tour every year, with planning and solicitation of advertisers beginning in the spring.
According to Sheridan, the planners of the event look for houses that are located close to each other, ideally so that attendees can walk from one house to the next. The planners also look for each home that has at least one feature that distinguishes it from all of the other houses on the tour.
“We’ve done this so long that it’s become sort of a tradition in McLean and it’s not an easy job,” Burnell said. “But we’re proud of what we’ve done all these years.”
Tickets for the tour cost $30 and can be purchased at any of the houses on the tour or at Mesmerelda’s Ltd. of McLean, located at 1339 Chain Bridge Road, McLean; Karin’s Florist Inc., located at 527 Maple Ave. E., Vienna or Great Dogs of Great Falls, located at 9859 Old Georgetown Road, Greal Falls.