When Don Miller came to Amherst more than 25 years ago he brought with him an idea that has become a Christmas tradition for the community.
What began as an annual event now takes place every second year and the Amherst First Baptist Church’s Deck the Halls Christmas House Tour is set to return in early December.
“It all started with a new roof,” the Baptist minister said. “When I first arrived in Amherst, the church was talking about how they were going to raise the money for a new roof for the church.”
The first Christmas house tour was held in 1993 and since then more than 125 homes have been featured along with the venerable church in downtown Amherst.
This year’s tour is Dec. 7 from 2 to 7 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and available at the church office, Buds To Blossoms Floral Boutique and The Copper Tree Boutique at Dayle’s Grand Market.
When he first arrived in Amherst he was struck by the town’s rich architectural heritage. He had attended Christmas house tours elsewhere and believed a similar fundraiser could be successful here – but with a twist.
“In Halifax, contractors would clean out a house and bring in all the decorations and set up for the tour and then tear it all down and bring the furniture back,” Miller said. “In Amherst, it’s a real people living in real homes with the decorations they use during the holidays. That’s the secret of our success.”
Amherst has many Victorian era homes as well as a number of newer homes that have intrigued people. Miller said people drive or walk by those homes and wonder what they look like inside. He stressed the tour would not be possible without the support of the homeowners themselves who volunteer to allow hundreds of people come through their homes during the holidays.
Miller said the homes participating in this year’s tour haven’t been named yet, but he expects people will love them with a couple of older homes as well as some newer ones.
“We will have something for everyone,” Miller said. “Some will enjoy the history of the homes and the church itself while others will like how some of the Amherst area’s newer homes are decorated.”