SHIRLEY — The landmark Jane Ross Reeves Octagon House at 400 S. Railroad St., Shirley, will be dressed up on all eight sides in holiday splendor for two weekends again this year.
Strolling through the unique, fully-restored rooms and viewing at least 20 decorated Christmas trees and other adornments is free to the public. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s safety recommendations will be in place with masks required, temperatures taken and social distancing ahered.
The doors will open 4-8 p.m. weekends of Fridays-Saturdays, Dec. 4-5 and 11-12.
To-go meals both weekends
Along with the self-guided tours, there will be carry-out dinners available. The first weekend will have chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes, green beans, dessert and drink for $12. The second week’s fare is vegetable soup or chili, pulled pork or sloppy joe sandwich, dessert and drink for $10.
Organizers mention what’s new for the walk and at the historical home. Becky Skinner of Ben’s Bar in Shirley donated $200 for new outdoor lights and sponsors three trees.
Shirley Warehouse on Main St. has a new tree as does the new downtown business, The Trusty Gavel.
A couple more tree sponsors are needed. Any organization, individual or person wanting to honor or memorialize a loved one may do so for $25 by calling Cheryl Wright at 737-6856 or Virginia Harrell at 738-6736.
Harrell, for example, decorated the house’s library in memory of Jane Ross Reeves who originally owned the home. Dec. 22 will be her 196th birthday anniversary.
“They need to come and see the house this year because it is different,” says Harrell. “We have different trees, different decorations on the staircase and outside.”
There’s also a new decorator to the committee, Becky Spegal of Shirley, although she has helped with meals in the past. Spegal says she is involved because of, “The history. It’s just so beautiful.”
Also new in 2020 are the upgraded grounds, with landscaping taken over by the Master Gardeners of Greenfield. “It’s beautiful,” says Harrell.
The home and grounds are available for rent. A family reunion is $50 and wedding $150. Harrell mentions a beautiful bridal shower that took place on the porch this year.
Anyone interested in renting the place can use the contact numbers above.
Organizers, all volunteers, are looking forward to seeing the house get fresh paint in 2021 along with an upgraded handicap ramp. They plan to have the community fish fry there in July and also a meal in September.
Also, they report that the Octagon House Endowment Fund offered through the Hancock County Community Foundation reached its goal last year so that funds will be available for maintenance into the future.
Several key volunteers memorialized
The committee lost some key dedicated volunteers in 2020. For Cheryl, the loss is keen of her mother-in-law, Carol Wright. She speaks of the love Carol had for the house and how Carol’s 64 descendants, including kids, grandkids and greats gathered this month to make fabric-wrapped ornaments that look like old-fashioned candy in Carol’s memory.
The ornaments fill a tree upstairs in the house’s loom room with a photo of Carol and her extended family beside it.
Also missed and remembered are volunteers Lamoine Harrell and Don Hammer.
Missing these loved ones and Octagon House supporters are felt by she and the committee, Cheryl says, “But we know they would want us to keep setting goals and moving forward.”
Meanwhile, the volunteers gave this newspaper a preview tour of the decorated trees and decorations such as the Woodlands tree, the large tree in the Hammer Reception Room that features vintage-type dolls Cheryl found in hues of burgundy, purple and gold with coordinating ornaments.
Cheryl adorned the Ben’s Bar room tree in blue and white.
Attendees can vote for their favorite trees by contributing money in containers beside the trees.