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Historic sites to hold tours

Friday, November 29, 2002

NEW MADRID - Three historic sites will welcome visitors during New Madrid's annual Holiday Open House and Candlelight Tours. The Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site, New Madrid Historical Museum and Higgerson School Historic Site will offer free tours from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14.

Margaret Palmer, director of the New Madrid Chamber of Commerce which promotes the historic site tours, said the event is an opportunity to see the town's historic sites and sets the mood for Christmas for those taking the tours. Each year she estimated the event can draw well over 1,000 visitors to the community, depending on the weather.

Those who have toured the sites previously will find something to enjoy this year, Palmer added, noting there are always changes made.

During this year's tour, visitors can see the major repairs and painting to the exterior which the Hunter-Dawson Home has undergone recently.

"The Hunter-Dawson Home always tries to make it different every year, add something new," explained Palmer, who volunteers to assist with decorating the house. "This year we are doing some different looks using lots of holly."

The Hunter-Dawson Home, 312 Dawson Road, strives to reproduce a Victorian Christmas, filling the interior with natural flowers and greenery. There will be three trees, 400-yards of live pine garland and holly topiaries as part of the decorations. Candlelight and oil lamps will set the mood as staff dressed in period clothing welcome visitors.

Members of the Singing Eagles from New Madrid County Central High School will perform at 7 p.m. Dec. 13. The choir is under the direction of Judy Henry.

Also free tours will be offered at the state site from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14.

The Higgerson School, 300 Main St., and the adjacent gift shop and visitor's center, will be open both nights for tours. The one-room school will be decorated much like a school house from the 1920s to 1940s when decorations would be made by the children and displayed throughout the building.

A teacher will welcome visitors who can sit at desks and imagine what is was like to have all eight grades together in one room.

Holiday items, including a large antique nativity scene, from the collection of the New Madrid Historical Museum will be featured during the two-night open house. Also visitors to the Museum, located at 101 Main St., can view the Indian and Civil War artifacts, earthquake display and many photos.

The Chamber director couldn't pick out her favorite Christmas scene from the three sites, rather she offered: "They are neat all in their own ways."

All participating sites will serve refreshments.

For more information contact the New Madrid Chamber of Commerce toll free at 1-877-748-5300 or visit the City of New Madrid's website at www.new-madrid.mo.us.