Upcoming tour mixes garden sites, area history

PARKERSBURG – Garden lovers and those interested in historic homes will have the chance to combine their interests or sample something new when the Julia-Ann Square Historic District holds its annual Victorian Spring Home and Garden Tour and Tea on the first weekend of June.

During the event, visitors can take self-guided tours of the historic district in downtown Parkersburg from 1 to 5 p.m. June 7 and 8.

Tickets are $15 for adults with children 10 and under admitted free with an adult. Tickets will be sold at 1024 Ann St. and at the corner of 13th and Juliana streets, where a Victorian Tea will be held at the Badger House at 1225 Juliana St. on both days.

For ticket information, call event organizer Judith Smith at 304-422-9861 or go online to juliannsquare.org.

Several gardens will be open during the two days of tours, with some of the locations also offering a chance to tour the historic homes, Smith said. Additional activities will also be taking place at other sites in the district.

A tour of the historic Riverview Cemetery at 1317 Juliana St. will be offered, which will include historical re-enactors portraying two of West Virginia’s early governors.

Visitors will also get to visit the garden labyrinth at First Presbyterian Church at 1341 Juliana St. The labyrinth was built by Smoot Falgren to honor his late wife, Judith. While it is on the grounds of the church, the community is invited to make use of the labyrinth. During the tour, there will be guides to inform tour-goers about the labyrinth and each person will receive a brochure telling how to walk a spiritual labyrinth. On Sunday at 4 p.m., all are invited to a concert by soprano Yvonne Crist in the church sanctuary.

The locations on this year’s tour include: the Katherine and Madison Brown House at 904 Juliana St.; the Shawn and Rebecca Blevins House at 944 Juliana St.; the Julie and Jim Deklavon House at 1203 Ann St.; the Calvin Wilson House at 931 Juliana St.; The Caswell-Smith House at 1024 Juliana St.; and the Ambler-Hanlon House at 109 West 12th St.

Among the homes and gardens on the tour will be:

The home at 931 Juliana St. features a small pond and fountain in the back yard. The home and garden will both be part of the tour.

The home at 944 Juliana St. features only a small amount of exterior space due to the home’s large footprint on the property, creating more of a container garden with a variety of plants and flowers in vases, pots and other containers around the home. The home and garden are both part of the tour.

The home at 1024 Juliana St. was built in 1885 and includes a restored carriage house with antique automobiles on display. The home and garden are both part of the tour, as is the carriage house.

The home at 109 West 12th St. will feature a large open courtyard area with a variety of interesting things on display. Only the garden at this location will be open.

The home at 1203 Ann St. is known for its first resident, Bishop George Peterkin, the first Episcopal Bishop of West Virginia, from 1878 until his death in 1917. In the late 1950s, its owners converted the home into five apartments and the DeKlavons have restored it to a single-family dwelling. The home and garden will both be part of the tour.

The home at 904 Juliana St. is a 1878 Second Empire house built by Col. William Nelson Chancellor, who also built the Blennerhassett Hotel. It features a traditional garden and both the garden and home will be open to visitors.

The home’s current owner is Katharine L. Brown, Chancellor’s great-great-granddaughter. She has compiled a cookbook entitled “Historic Parkersburg Cooks: Recipes for Memories from the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.” Copies of the cookbooks will be available for sale during the tours and Brown will be in her garden signing copies. Some of the cookie recipes from the book will be prepared for folks to taste at the Tea, Smith said.

All proceeds will benefit the Julia-Ann Square Historic District improvement projects, which have included light posts, arches, benches and sidewalk improvements over the years.

Julia-Ann Square is a community of approximately 125 homes, primarily built mid-1800s through 1900-1915. The entire district has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. It features various architecture styles, including late Victorian, Colonial Revival and many examples of Queen Anne architecture.