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Four homes hang holiday cheer for a fundraiser
Gainesville High School's annual Tour of Homes is Dec. 7
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Lyn Froehlich hangs the family stockings on the fireplace mantle Wednesday afternoon as she prepares her Gainesville home for the annual Gainesville High theater department’s Christmas Tour of Homes fundraiser.

GHS Theatre Friends Christmas Tour of Homes

When: 1-5 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Dixon Circle, Riverside Drive, Sherwood Road, Hartwell Crossing

How much: $20

More info: ghstourofhomes@gmail.com, 770-287-2037

Holiday Tour of Bed and Breakfast Inns

When: 1-5 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Historic Dahlonega

How much: $10

More info: 706-864-3513, www.dahlonega.org

Lyn Froehlich favorite time of year is Christmas.

To mark the Christian celebration, she decorates her 1957 home to the nines. And for the first, she is showing it off to the public as part of the Gainesville High School theater department’s annual Tour of Homes.

“Christmas ... means a lot to me,” Froehlich said. “We’re Christians and we love the Lord and gosh, this is great, to just share our home during the holiday.”

For $20, patrons can tour Froehlich’s and three other homes in the Gainesville area decked out in Christmas decor. All proceeds benefit the Gainesville High School Theatre Department, helping students with the costs of their productions.

“I really care about our community, and (the fundraiser) helps our community be a better place,” the resident of Sherwood Road said.

Several stockings hang from Froehlich’s stone fireplace, and an angel-themed tree is in the process of being decorated for visitors’ enjoyment.

Built in 1957 by a local pharmacist, Froehlich’s home was constructed just as Lake Lanier was on the brink of rising to full levels for the first time.

“(The house) has got character,” she said. “When I walked in, it just had a feeling, just with the stone and the wood — you don’t see that in a lot of homes.”

Several of the home’s exposed stone walls are already primed to display Christmas decorations, and the stained glass windows that are a fixture of the main room let in a right amount of light to mix with the colors of decorative holiday bulbs. The wrap-around porch offers an expansive view of Lake Lanier through the orange and yellow leaves of fall.

Many of the walls are also constructed from pecky cypress, specialty lumber often in high demand due to the unique patterns in the wood. The material is difficult to track down, so much that the Froehlichs aren’t sure where they’d go if they needed to replace any of the paneling.

“A builder one time came to help us remodel the kitchen, and he just said ‘You could never replace what’s here,’ just because of the stone and wood,” Froehlich said. “Homes aren’t built like this anymore.”

In addition to welcoming all the visitors from GHS’s Christmas Tour of Homes, Froehlich looks forward to welcoming her son Jake, 20, and daughter Stephanie, 23, back home for the holidays. A family atmosphere already hangs in the air, especially around the old-fashioned Advent calendar and a game of Scrabble already set out, ready to be played.

Family was the reason Jennifer Hicks, a GHS Theatre Friends board member, became involved in orchestrating the tour, which is always a hit with patrons.

“It’s a huge fundraiser for us,” said Hicks, whose son, Parker Hendrix, is active in the GHS theater department. “We sold around 150 tickets last year.”

GHS theater was instrumental in Hendrix’s high school experience.

“(Hendrix) was a quiet, shy kid, and Mrs. Ware has brought out just the best in him,” Hicks said. “(Ware) expects (students) to work hard and pushes them to do their very best, and it makes them better people for it.”

Since a group of parents began the fundraiser in 2007, the board has approached anybody willing to open their home to the tour to be a part of the event. Additional homes in the tour include the residences of Joe and Chris Casper on Dixon Circle, Lee and Leigh Wiley on Riverside Drive and Wesley and Carolanne Owenby on Hartwell Crossing.

For first-timer Froehlich, sharing her residence is just one more way she can get away from the madness of Christmas’ consumerist connotation and closer to the peaceful meaning of the season — celebrating Christ’s birth.

“We love to share our home and just having people over, celebrating this quiet time,” Froehlich said.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.gainesvilletheatre.weebly.com or Imperial Salon, 108 Bradford St. NW, Gainesville.

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