WILLIAMSTOWN - For nearly 170 years, Henderson Hall remained in the same family since its construction.
This month it will once again be open to visitors during the annual Henderson Hall Christmas Holiday Tours.
The three-story Italianate villa-style home is located on Old River Road off West Virginia 14, between Boaz and Williamstown.
Dave McKain, director of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Museum in downtown Parkersburg, was a long-time friend of the home's last owner, Michael Rolston, who died in December 2007. McKain has taken over operating the historic home.
"We're doing this in honor of Michael," McKain said of the tours.
Rolston was the fifth generation to live in the house, which was built by his great-great-grandparents, George Washington Henderson and Elizabeth Tomlinson-Henderson, during a time when Wood County was still part of Virginia.
If you go:
What Henderson Hall Christmas Holiday Tours.
When: 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13-14, and Friday through Sunday, Dec. 19-21.
Where: Old River Road, off West Virginia 14 between Boaz and Williamstown.
Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 7 to 12 and free for children 6 and under. That will include refreshments and candlelight displays.
"The rear portion, the first section of the house, was built in 1836 and then 20 years and 12 children later, they added a large Victorian addition to the front" facing the Ohio River, Rolston said in past interviews prior to his death.
For over 20 years, Rolston opened the home to tourists each Sunday during the summer and for private group tours, but the holiday tour usually brought some of the biggest crowds. The home usually averaged about 500 visitors during the holiday period.
Over the years, a number of volunteers have helped as docents each summer and during the Holiday Tour. The docents have been working to decorate and prepare the house for the holiday event.
All three floors of the home will be open during the tour. Henderson Hall has 17 individual rooms, but if the hallways, basement rooms and attic spaces are counted, there are 29 rooms. The third floor includes a ballroom for parties.
In a change from past tours, McKain said some rooms of the home will be open for the self-guided visitors to enter, while others will be roped off at the entrance and open to viewing from the doorways, as is common in many historic home tours, he said.
Previous visitors to Henderson Hall will have many new features to see when the home opens for the holiday tours, McKain said. During his lifetime, Rolston was a collector of many items, both antique and modern.
Over the past year, McKain has been working to restore a turn-of-the-century historic ambiance to the home, arranging many of the rooms and their furnishings with the original Henderson family items or as close as possible. The goal is to recreate the "simple elegance" the Henderson family.
"It's an all new Henderson Hall," he said. "We're trying to take it back to what it would have been around 1900 or 1910," he said.
That sense will also be reflected in the holiday decorations, McKain said. There is a large Christmas tree and other decorations, but will be different from the lavish decorations used at Henderson Hall in the past and more period in style with greenery, ribbons and natural items.