In 1978, Dr. Willie Grier Todd, a Guyton native and retired professor of history at Georgia Southern University, started the Guyton Holiday Tour of Homes. She opened her historical home, Beulah, and greeted guests. The Victorian home was decorated as in days gone by, using actual lighted candles and period ornaments. Live greenery and fresh fruit were always staples of the decorations.
The tour usually featured five or more beautiful Guyton Victorian homes decorated for the holiday season with antiques and festive seasonal flowers. Each room on tour was decorated for the guests. Hosts and hostesses and many volunteers manned the rooms on tour often wearing period dress.
Most of the churches opened to the public were decorated featuring poinsettias, Nativity scenes and lovely Christian-themed Christmas trees. As the years went by and volunteers to show their Victorian homes dwindled, modern homes and some outside the city limits were featured on the tour.
Sponsors for the tour were the Guyton Historical Society, the Guyton Women’s Club and the Guyton Volunteer Fire Department. It took many volunteers to host the tour.
One highlight of the tour was the breakfast for supper country meal offered for a nominal fee served in the school lunchroom. The meal featured Ratchford sausage, eggs, grits, biscuit with Futrelle’s Cane Syrup and a drink. In 1990, supper cost $3.25. Often there were local musicians or school bands who entertained with musical Christmas selections during the meal.
In the beginning there were no fees for tickets, only donations taken at sites where you got maps for the tour. By the last years of the tour, the churches were open at no cost and tickets were sold to visit the houses.
Dr. Todd was commended by the Georgia House of Representatives in House Resolution 663 in 2003 sponsored by the Representative Ann Purcell. It recognized her as follows: “Dr. Todd founded the Annual Guyton Tour of Homes in 1978, and she still presides at her historic home, a focal point of the tour, with the graciousness of a southern lady.”
After Dr. Todd’s passing in 2006, the Guyton Methodist Church acquired the Matriarch of Guyton’s home, Beulah.
The tour was held through 2008 before it was discontinued featuring homes, churches and businesses.
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.