A Taste of Holiday Decor: Samford’s Christmas Home Tour Featuring 5 Homes in Homewood, Mountain Brook, and Vestavia Hills

A Taste of Holiday Decor: Samford’s Christmas Home Tour Featuring 5 Homes in Homewood, Mountain Brook, and Vestavia Hills

Poker house

Written by Sharon Smith

a The tradition that began in 2011 will continue on December 7, when the Samford University Legacy League welcomes guests to five picturesque homes in Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills.

The listings for the organization’s 13th Annual Christmas Home Tour include a range of architectural styles, ages, décor and holiday decorations to suit all tastes. Visitors to the Home of the Samford President can, once again, shop from a carefully selected selection of vendors and feast on holiday sweets.

In the 12 years since its inception, the Samford Legacy League’s Christmas Home Tour has become ingrained in the community. Many guests attend annually and list the tour as their favorite holiday tradition. So far, the event has included 51 homes, more than 6,000 participants and hundreds of volunteers.

For the eighth year, ARC Realty is the presenting sponsor of this tour. This year’s featured sponsors are AllSouth Appliance, Byrom Building, Community Bank, Firefly Electrical, Mountain Brook Plaza 280, and Oak Leaf Lawn & Landscape.

With the support of these companies and strong ticket sales, the event raised more than $365,000 to provide transformative scholarships to students with significant financial need and difficult circumstances.

To date, the Association has awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships, helping more than 200 students experience a Samford education. Legacy League scholarship recipients have experienced obstacles including homelessness, violence, death or disability of a parent, foster care, abandonment, parental addiction or incarceration, and the sacrifices of full-time service.

Homeowners supporting the League’s mission by sharing their homes this year are:

Deidre and George Robert Booker
3105 Roxbury Road, Homewood

Built in 2019 by Byrom Building, Bookers’ Homewood residence is the newest on the tour. Although only 4 years old, the custom-built home contains many wooden elements dating back much further.

Reclaimed antique pine floors and exposed beams in the kitchen and family room add warmth and interest to the dwelling’s welcoming first floor. Three doors in the horizontally paneled hallway cleverly open to reveal two wardrobes and a cloakroom. Floor-to-ceiling blue painted cabinets provide useful storage space and a visual focal point in the large family room and kitchen.

Floral fabrics add an English country house feel to the home. The upstairs guest room mimics a memorable room at the Double Red Duke in the Cotswolds, which the family visited in June.

For the holidays, the Bueckers use lots of fresh greenery — including 16 boxwood wreaths and yards of magnolia wreath — to decorate their windows, banisters and fireplace mantel. The centerpiece of the family room is a large Christmas tree covered in ornaments collected over the years, including a collection of mini Snoopys.

“We buy ornaments everywhere we go, but our favorites are the little handprints and preschool treasures,” Deidre said.

Shiny Brite ornaments, which peaked in the 1950s, adorn a second tree in the formal living room.

Liz and Doug guest
2065 Magnolia Ridge, Vestavia Hills

The open floor plan of this guest house at Magnolia Ridge works beautifully for a couple who entertains regularly. Built in 1996, the house on Dolly Ridge Road underwent a major renovation when Liz and Doug bought it to live near their grandchildren.

Guest house

They took on the interior first, taking the kitchen down to the studs and updating it with new cabinets and appliances, including a Thermador six-burner oven from AllSouth Appliance. They also converted the master bathroom and installed new hardwood floors and light fixtures throughout the house.

Liz describes the decor as “very eclectic with a mix of contemporary and traditional pieces.” The handmade chest in the den is more than 100 years old, as is the small bench that Liz was given by her grandmother for her 16th birthday.

A garland, a magnolia and five Christmas trees add cheer to the home during the holidays. One of the trees, which Liz described as “whimsical and fun,” rises with her six grandchildren, ages 7 to 15, in mind. Another, made by a friend, is above the front door, where its large, bright, funky balls can be seen from inside and outside the house.

In addition to the many trees, Liz displays Dickens’ Christmas Carols, a treasured collection amassed through annual gifts from her children, and a large number of Santa Claus pieces.

Sharon and Billy Harvill
2122 Longleaf Trail, Vestavia Hills

“At a time when most people are downsizing, we did the exact opposite,” Billy Harvell said of the couple’s 2021 move to their Longleaf home.

“Real estate shopping is Sharon’s hobby, and this house has two things she’s always wanted — a pool and a view,” he explained.

Located off Altadena Road, Harvill’s spacious property and gorgeous patio, recently landscaped by Oak Leaf Lawn & Landscape, are perfect for hosting extended family and friends. Nearly 40 family members, ages 2 to 75, will gather there to celebrate Christmas. They will be greeted, like guests on house trips, with wreaths on the front windows, abundant greenery, multiple decorated trees and a pergola specially prepared for the holidays.

The upstairs bedrooms are intended primarily for the grandchildren’s frequent visits, and Sharon and Billy Harvell live primarily on the main floor.

Harville House

The walls of the first floor display local art, and each piece is linked to a memory. Their collection of paintings includes a variety of themes and styles. From abstracts by Shannon Harris and Jamie Bee to landscapes by Les Yarbrough and cityscapes by Nancy Lloyd, the Harvells enjoy adding to their home gallery by bidding on events like the Cancer Art Blink Gala. One of my favorite paintings purchased at the event was one of Ahmed Austin’s paintings of jazz musicians, known for their square heads, blank faces, energy and texture.

Julie and Beck Taylor
Samford Chief’s House
1994 Shades Crest Road, Vestavia Hills

Perched atop Shades Mountain overlooking Birmingham, Samford President’s Home is a replica of Montaigne, a mid-18th-century Neoclassical home in Natchez, Mississippi.

Like the original house, the President’s House features black and white marble floors, a wallpapered entrance hall and a lyre-shaped balustrade.

The property serves as a frequently used event space at the university, and is also the residence of Samford University President Beck A. Taylor; his wife, Julie, first lady of the university and executive director of the Legacy League; Their youngest daughter, Chloe. And Peanut, their Goldendoodle.

University-owned antiques and art, as well as Taylor family furniture and collections, are incorporated throughout the stately residence. More than 1,800 books fill the bookcases of the four-storey house, which receives thousands of visitors every year. Guests of the university are greeted by a portrait of Samuel Sterling Sherman, a Vermont native who served as the first president and only professor when the school was founded in 1841.

With its panoramic views of the Samford University campus, the city skyline, and beyond, the hilltop residence turns spectacular when the Taylor family and their “elves” decorate for the Christmas season.

The house features six Christmas trees, each uniquely decorated. Yards of ribbons and greenery decorate the staircases of the majestic homes, while each of the four shelves is dressed in festive clothing for the holidays.

Opening their home to hundreds to tour is just one of countless ways to fulfill the Taylor family’s commitment to Legacy League service and their call to serve the university.

On the day of the home tour, Taylors guests will be treated to live Christmas music, holiday treats and pop-up shops in the ballroom. A portion of all pop-up store purchases will support the Legacy League Scholarship Fund.

Samford Chief’s House

Cathy and Tommy Thompson
3121 Brookwood Road, Mountain Brook

Cathy Thompson admired the Cape Cod Ranch on Brookwood Road for decades before it finally became her family’s home — and her 50th birthday gift — in 2013.

During a seven-month renovation, the Thompsons expanded the kitchen and family room space, rebuilt its bathrooms and added an upstairs game room, while maintaining the integrity and charm of the original residence.

Built in 1960, the welcoming New England-style home has a large front porch that has been the Thomsons’ main dining area since a summer storm forced their children to hold a secret outdoor pandemic party.

Inside the home, Cathy’s roots are evident in oil paintings by Mississippi artists. Her grandparents’ farm in the Mississippi Delta is depicted in an art piece by Richard Kelso, whose work is also displayed in the master bedroom. There is a cherished painting by Thomas Wilson, Cathy’s classmate, depicting her with her twin brother in a trailer on the farm, a favorite childhood spot. The Thompson family commissioned the piece after Cathy’s brother died in a car accident.

Among other special pieces in the Thompson residence are paintings from Kathy’s mother’s collection and paintings and sculptures that Tommy brought back from multiple medical trips to Africa. The nativity scene shown in their study came from Mwandi, Zambia.

Seven Christmas trees in different sizes and decorations add to the festive decor throughout the house.

Thompson house

if you go

Advance tickets are required for the tour and can be purchased at samford.edu/legacyleague for $40 through November 30, then $45 from December 1-5. Guests will choose a start time and first house during ticket purchase. Limited slots available. Selection is subject to availability. Tickets are not available at the door.

After visiting their first home, guests can tour the other homes in any order at their leisure during tour hours. It will take about two and a half hours to visit all the houses. Houses will be open from 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 8pm. Guests will drive to each house; Car use is highly recommended.

The Legacy League is a charitable organization with over 800 members, ranging in age from 22 to 101 years old. The 2023 Christmas Home Tour Committee, chaired by Jan Service, planned the event, one of the organization’s largest fundraisers. The annual tour attracts hundreds of people each year, attracting visitors from all over Alabama and many other states.

Sharon Smith is the Managing Director of the Samford Legacy League

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *