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A Step Into History
Foyer and central hall of the Parish House - photo by Jessica Smith

An architectural and historical gem will be opened to the public just in time for the holidays. The long-shuttered doors of the Conyers First United Methodist Parish House will be open to the public Dec. 9 – 10 for a Designer Showcase with proceeds benefiting the home’s restoration.

The gabled, 1884 Victorian home at 927 North Main Street has original stained glass windows, fireplaces and mantles underneath its 15-foot ceilings and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Before the church acquired the house, Miss Irene Irwin, a civic leader and math teacher, lived in the home until her death in 1969. "Miss Irene left an enormous legacy to this community," said Harriet Gattis, a committee member and history buff, "Her estate went to the Civic League stipulating the income be used for expanding the library and arts here, and we’re still benefitting from it today."

Even earlier residents of the home include other street-bearing names such as Rosser, Ewing and Peek. The home served as a parsonage for many associate ministers, their families and even refugees over the years until it was closed almost a decade ago.

The home’s central rooms will be brought to life with a holiday twist by Sigman Mills, Ramsey Furniture and Fabrics and Furnishings for the showcase. Sadie’s Antiques and Something Old Something new will stage the kitchen, foyer and central hall areas.

Committee member Bonny Bryant, also a decorator and Habitat for Humanity champion, was assigned a bedroom where she used some of Irwin’s furniture and personal effects to evoke an earlier time. "I’m happy to see the house come to life again," she said. Bryant’s also heartened the house has been reported structurally sound though in need of much renovation.

Once renovated, the church hopes on using the home as a local office for the Care and Counseling Group of Georgia. Currently, the non-denominational group of counselors is meeting with clients in the church’s parlor. "Our hope is lives will be restored along with the building," said Debbie Golden, CFUMC’s Director of Evangelism.

The Designer Showcase will open with candlelight tours on Friday, Dec. 9 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. and an Open House from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on December 10. Admission is $8, cash or check only, at the door or advance tickets available at CFUMC, 921 N. Main St., Conyers, 770-483-4326, or at the Conyers Welcome Center, 901 Railroad St., Conyers, 770-602-2606. There will be door prizes along with a gift shop and tea room.