HOLLY SPRINGS • When Leigh and Kelton Morris finally got tired of big-city living in Memphis, they knew exactly where they’d land – the Rather-Douglas House in Holly Springs.
“This house was for sale three years ago but the timing wasn’t right for us,” Leigh Morris said. “We’ve always liked this house. It came available again earlier this year and everything just fell into place.”
The Rather-Douglas House is one of six homes, along with the the Church of the Yellow Fever Martyrs, that will be on the 30th Annual Christmas Tour of Homes in Holly Springs.
The tour is Dec. 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Dec. 8 from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance ($15 for groups of 10 or more) and $25 on the day of the event. They are available at the Marshall County Historical Museum or by calling (662) 252-3669 or visiting marshallcountymuseum.com of Facebook.
The Rather-Douglas House is an example of the American Foursquare, called such because of the boxy, square shapes and nearly identical floorplans. Foursquares are usually two-and-a-half stories with a large central dormer.
“L.A. Rather built the house in 1919 and it stayed in the Rather family until 1972,” Kelton Morris said. “After Mrs. Rather died, Dick Douglas and his wife, Leigh, bought it and stayed in it until 2013 or 2014.”
The 100-year-old home has about 3,500 square feet. The first floor houses a foyer, master bedroom and bath, family room, dining room, kitchen, powder room and laundry. The upstairs has three bedrooms and two baths, and the half-story dormer is an attic.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time this house has been on tour,” Kelton Morris said.
“We just moved in in March so we didn’t exactly volunteer to be on the tour,” Leigh Morris said. “There was some arm-twisting involved.”
Still, she’s eager to show off the home with its dark-colored walls and wide-plank floors.
The woman who bought the home from the Douglas family never actually lived in it, Kelton Morris said.
“One winter the pipes froze upstairs and the water damaged the floors and walls downstairs,” he said. “The floors downstairs had to be replaced, but we believe the hardwoods upstairs are original.”
Leigh Morris’ decorating style is very traditional, with lots of reds, greens and golds. There’s one large tree in the family room and lots of red berries on the mantle, staircase railing and in the kitchen.
“I use the same things every year,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll throw in something new. Closer to the time of tour, I’ll add fresh greenery, magnolia leaves and wreaths to the home along with fresh flower arrangements.”
Jim Moore, director of the Marshall County Historical Museum, said the holiday tour weekend is pretty much the museum’s one fundraising event for the year.
“We had a good crowd last year,” he said. “I think we had about 400 people come through.”
On Friday, Dec. 6, the night before the tours begin, the museum will host the fourth annual Holly and Ivy Gala at Montrose, featuring hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, a silent auction and music provided by the Jazz Tones. Tickets are $45 each or $80 per couple for museum members and $55 and $100 for non-members.
Besides the Rather-Douglas House, the other homes on the tour are Hopkins House, Live Oak, Wynne House, Cedar Haven and Strawberry Plains.
“Being on the tour gives people a new house to see and we also love to support the museum,” Kelton Morris said.
Leigh Morris agreed.
“Holly Springs has been a breath of fresh air for us,” she said.