Gingerbread takes on new meaning this time of year. Sure, we're fans of the sweet and spicy cookies iced with buttons and smiles, but this season also includes open houses for Victorian era stunners. With holiday home tours in Houston, Galveston, Round Top, Chappell Hill, Bastrop and Woodville, 'tis the season for exploring architecturally significant structures all wrapped up in a gorgeous bow.
The historic Heights is celebrating its 30th edition of this annual self-guided tour and this year's theme is "These are a few of my favorite things." Stops include Sara's Bed and Breakfast Inn, an 1898 Victorian with a turret and widow's walk; a 1920s bungalow with a life-sized nativity scene; a 1909 Craftsman that creatively hides a modern, open floor plan; a 1920s bungalow that has been remodeled with a second story and was featured in This Old House magazine; and a 1943 French farmhouse design with quaint and intimate spaces indoors and out.
The 2019 Houston Heights Holiday Home Tour is scheduled for December 6-7 from 6-9 p.m. Friday and 3-9 p.m. Saturday in the Heights. Purchase tickets online or at the Houston Heights City Hall & Fire Station, 107 West 12th. For information, call 713-861-4002 or visit houstonheights.org/event/holiday-tour. $25 to $30.
Also celebrating 30 years is Galveston's East End Historical District with four homes festively decorated for the holiday season, as well as a stop at the historic Christ Chapel (The Swedish Church). These homes were built during a time when Galveston was the wealthiest city in Texas, and the successful merchants who owned the properties called on skilled European immigrants to create architectural wonders designed to impress neighbors and demonstrate prosperity. Guests can also visit the EEHDA Cottage on Postoffice for light refreshments, then stroll over to the organization's Darragh Park at 15th and Church for holiday music.
The East End Holiday Homes Tour is scheduled for December 6 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday. Purchase tickets online or at the East End Historical District Association, 1501 Postoffice, Galveston. For information, call visit eastendhistoricaldistrict.org. $25.
There's something for everybody on this tour presented by the Courtlandt Place Historical Foundation: a display of vintage cars, a trio of magnificently curated gardens, and six historic homes. No cars will be permitted inside this residential enclave of Montrose, located between Taft and Bagby, so organizers are recommending taking Uber or Lyft. A portion of the proceeds benefits Preservation Houston.
The Courtlandt Place Holiday Home Tour 2019 is scheduled for December 7-8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; final entry is at 4 p.m. For information, visit eventbrite.com/e/courtlandt-place-holiday-home-tour-2019-tickets-76849086687. $45 to $50.
Christmas Twilight Tour (Woodville), December 7
About an hour and 45 minutes northeast of Houston is Woodville with its historic Heritage Village. Stop by the Heritage Village Museum as it celebrates the pioneer era with cookies, cider, story time, and a visit with Santa Claus, then tour the historic village by oil lamp or lantern before attending a Christmas service in the old Cherokee church.
Christmas Twilight Tour is scheduled for December 7 from 4-8 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Village, Highway 190 West, Woodville. For information, call 800-323-0389 or visit heritage-village.org. Free.
Since 1961 the annual MacGregor area Christmas tour of homes has become an important community event within the Third Ward. Not only does it raise funds for the Blue Triangle Garden Club and the Blue Triangle Multi-Cultural Center, but it allows Houstonians the opportunity to view a trio of beautiful homes in the historic MacGregor area. From traditional holiday decor to modern holiday trends, organizers make touring easier with free parking and shuttle service.
The Blue Triangle Garden Club Christmas Tour of Homes is scheduled for December 8 from 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Parking is at RF Austin Professional Plaza, 5751 Blythewood. For information, visit bluetrianglegardenclub.org. $17.
We're always amazed when the 14-acre Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is transformed into a winter wonderland with a scavenger hunt, faux-snow slide and cotton snowball tossing. But architecture buffs always look forward to this opportunity to upgrade their ticket and tour the first floor of Ima Hogg's historic mansion with live actors, theatrical effects and luxe Christmas decorations. Space is limited so our recommendation is to reserve your tour time in advance.
Christmas Village at Bayou Bend is scheduled for December 12-30 from 5:30-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and December 22-23 at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Memorial Drive. For information, call 713-639-7750 or visit mfah.org/a/christmas-village-at-bayou-bend. Free to $23.
Fort Bend County is home to some of the most beautifully planned neighborhoods in the region and this year's 28th anniversary tour takes tour-goers inside homes in the Alkire Lake, Sienna Plantation, Sugar Creek and Sweetwater neighborhoods. The homes are all lavishly decorated for the holidays and ticket sales and sponsorships help Child Advocates continue its mission of providing a voice, healing the hurt, and breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect.
The Christmas Home Tour is scheduled for December 13-14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For information call 281-344-5100 or visit cafb.org. $30.
This Allen-Fowler House in Bastrop, built in 1852 as a residence across from what became the Bastrop Military Institute, looks postcard-perfect with a sprinkling of snow. Governor Sam Houston dined here while his sons were cadets. Later on State Senator John Preston Fowler and his wife renovated the facade and added the iconic porches, bay windows and gingerbread detailing. Four other historic homes are on the tour, as well as a stop at the First United Methodist Church that was built in 1925.
The Holiday Homes Tour is scheduled for December 14 from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Purchase tickets at the Bastrop Museum and Visitor Center, 904 Main, Bastrop. For information, call 512-303-0057 or 512-303-0904 or visit bastropcountyhistoricalsociety.com/tour-sites. Free to $20.
Winedale Historical Complex, a division of the Briscoe Center for American History (UT-Austin), is a 225 acre complex located four miles northeast of Round Top and features a collection of 19th century structures and period furnishings, many of which were donated by Miss Ima Hogg. Tour decorated homes and enjoy demonstrations of blacksmithing, quilting, weaving, spinning, pottery, lace making, woodworking and basket-weaving. Other activities include music and theater performances, a petting zoo, and food and beverages.
Christmas at Winedale is scheduled for December 14 from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Winedale Historical Complex, 3738 FM 2714, Round Top. For information, call 979-278-3530 or visit facebook.com.
It's not over until the annual Teddy Bear Parade on Main Street, but before that happens guests are invited to tour Parkerosa, Lillian Farms, Kottage at Summerhill, Sunshine Cottage and the Chappell Hill Historical Society Museum. Entertainment includes the Houston Shimmer flute choir, the Round Top Ruggers rug show, and the First Baptist Church Chappell Hill choir.
The 2019 Christmas Home Tour is scheduled for December 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Purchase tickets at the Bluebonnet House and Garden center, 5095 Main, Chappell Hill. For information, call 713-562-6191 or visit chappellhillgardenclub.com/home-tour.html. $20 to $25.