Williamsburg’s bicentennial celebration resumes Saturday morning with a historic homes tour featuring six of the oldest homes in Williamsburg, many of which were built during an era when Williamsburg was one of the wealthiest places in America.
“The wealth at that time in Williamsburg was unbelievable,” said Carroll “Cissy” Lunce, who is organizing the historic homes tour. “It was supposed to have been per capita the richest city in the United States.”
Many of the original owners were among the builders of Cumberland College, which is known today at the University of the Cumberlands.
Lunce said the homes were chosen because of the history behind the buildings, their beauty, and the significance of the original homeowners.
“There is a lot of history of them within the city,” Lunce added.
The tour includes five houses, and a renovated historical apartment building that now contains two loft-style apartments.
- The Moss apartment building is located along Main Street and previously served as the office of local dentist Dr. Bert Ballou. Construction on the building began in 1920 for Dr. A.A. Richardson and his wife. Current owner Dr. James Moss recently had the building renovated with two apartments on the second floor, and an apartment and commercial space on the street level.
- The “President’s Home” is currently owned by the University of the Cumberlands and is occupied by UC President Dr. Larry Cockrum and his wife.
The beautiful brick colonial home was donated to what was then Cumberland College in 1962 by Mrs. Ruby Gatliff Archer.
The home was a replica of the “Kentucky Home” exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Far. Original owners and past residents included: Dr. and Mrs. N.A. Archer, Dr. and Mrs. J.M. Boswell, and Dr. and Mrs. James Taylor.
- The Sutton home is currently owned by Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Sutton. The home contains beautiful architectural features of Victorian and Queen Anne styles. It was built in the late 1880s by Dr. Ancil Gatliff. The original fireplaces are seen in every room on the first level. Surrounding this beautiful historic home are more than two acres of ornamental gardens.
- The Smith house is currently owned by Dr. and Mrs. Michael R. Smith, who purchased it in 1991. In 1898, A.T. Siler, a prominent Williamsburg attorney, and his wife, Minnie E. Siler, started construction on the Victorian-style home. By 1927, Siler and his second wife, Minnie Murphy Siler, completely renovated the home into a colonial-style home.
The home was famous for stone walks, a beautiful pergola, fishpond, and Mr. Siler’s beloved raised gardens. Previous owners included: Dr. R.D. Pitman and Margaret Pitman, Danny Allnutt and Marcia Hayes (Allnutt), and Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Sutton.
- The Powers home is currently owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Powers. In 1901, Edwin E. Wood, who was the second president of the Williamsburg Institute, which is now the University of the Cumberlands, purchased the four lots in the Denham addition of Williamsburg at the corner of Ridge Avenue and Pine Street.
Wood had the home modeled after one he had seen on a trip to South Carolina. The design of the home is colonial revival, which was predominant in the U.S. from the 1870s until the 1930s.
- The Bryant home is currently owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Bryant and is located on Pine Street. J.B. White built the home in 1904. White was in business with George Delaney, who owned the Kentucky Lumber Company.
White was elected mayor of Williamsburg three times. His daughter, Lucille, remained in the house until the 1950s. Hugh Bart and Linda Steely bought the house in the 1960s, and sold it to the Bryants in 1976, who have lived there since. They have restored and added four additions to the house, sticking to the original Victorian architecture. It now consists of 15 rooms, five and one/half baths and three porches.
Presold tickets for the April 21 Historical Homes Tour are $30 each and can be purchased at Williamsburg City Hall and the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center.
Tickets are $35 each on the day of the tour, which will start at Williamsburg City Hall at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Lunce said that organizers are expecting the tour to last 4.5 – 5 hours.
“There is a lot of history. Lunch is going to be served at city hall for those who are buying tickets,” she noted.
Proceeds from the historical homes tour will be used to help pay for other bicentennial events in the city.
Another event that will coincide with the city’s bicentennial celebration is a benefit concert for the restoration of the Lane Theater, which will take place starting at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The band Tidal Wave Road will perform in the lobby of the Lane Theater, and there will be theater tours during the concert.
Concessions will be available for purchase, and donations for the restoration will be accepted.
Whitley County was founded in 1818 with Williamsburg as its county seat.
Williamsburg officials are concentrating their celebration in April because this is the month that Williamsburg was selected as the county seat 200 years ago.
Williamsburg’s bicentennial celebration will culminate with a series of events on April 28, including a walk-run, bicycle rodeo, parade, birthday gala, and frontiersmen, colonial and civil war era encampments near the old courthouse.