History + Home

Experience History with the Downtown Holiday Tour

On Sunday, December 2 from 1-5 pm, experience the beauty and history of downtown Harrisonburg with the Downtown Holiday Tour. This tour not only takes you through Old Town homes, but also downtown residential lofts and businesses in historic buildings, all decorated for the holidays.

One of the homes featured on the tour is the Switzer Estate, which is located at 311 Paul Street and was designed by renowned architect Samuel Simmons, son of T.J. Simmons.

The Switzer Estate. Photo courtesy of Geri Barker.

It was first built between 1939 and 1940 by Frank and Mamie Switzer, and it is located on 1.092 acres. This two-story brick house features 18 rooms including a library, a dining room, and a study. The house even has Biblical scenes captured in Dutch delft tile around the living room fireplace.  Another must-see of the house are the beautiful gardens, designed by Jack Douglas of Douglas and Associates Landscape Architects.

The Switzer Gardens. Photo by Geri Barker.

The gardens include a formal three-terrace garden, a small water garden, a trellis with plants, a hot tub, and a garden house. The Old Town homes featured on the Downtown Holiday Tour don’t end there – other featured homes include the Mims House on South Mason Street and the Miller Home on East Gratton Street.

The downtown residential lofts and businesses are new additions to the tour this year. The lofts featured on the tour include the Urban Exchange and 91 Franklin Street Apartments and they present a perfect way to see the blend of old meeting new living in the downtown Harrisonburg area.

Featured downtown businesses on the tour include Eugene Stoltzfus Architects and The Stratford Companies in the Houck Building and You Made It! Paint Your Own Pottery & Fused Glass Studio in the Wine Brothers building. You Made It! will be hosting a Painting with Santa event that day as well, so be sure to hang out with Saint Nick and paint some pottery after the tour.

Inside You Made It! Paint Your Own Pottery & Fused Glass Studio. Photo by Brittany Kinsella.

Eugene Stoltzfus Architects was founded in 2006 and has helped design many revitalization projects around Harrisonburg. They designed many unique structures around the city, including the Sundial House, a passive solar energy house. When you tour their office, one of the main focal points are their unique walls made from translucent polycarbonate which lets natural light stream through the office.  The modern aesthetics and unique approach to design demonstrate how Euguene Stoltzfus Architects truly think outside of the box. Eugene Stoltzfus also makes furniture, with the prototypes all made locally.

Furniture and designs by Eugene Stoltzfus Architects. Photo by Brittany Kinsella.

Advance tickets for this must-see holiday event are available for $20 through Wednesday, November 28th on the HDR website and at the Rocktown Gift Shoppe at 212 South Main Street in the Hardesty-Higgins House. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the event for $25 at the Arts Council of the Valley’s Smith House.For more information, please contact Trisha Blosser.

And before the event, be sure to stop in for brunch at a downtown restaurant, such as Billy Jack’s Wing & Draft Shack, Blue Nile, Clementine, Earth & Tea Café, and The Little Grill Collective!

Brittany Kinsella is a writing intern at Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and a senior Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communications major at James Madison University. 


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