This holiday season we were purposeful in our planning. We contemplated what to give our parents, then decided the gift of time together was more valuable than anything else in this world. With that in mind, we planned an overnight trip with them but packed as much as we all could stand during those 48 hours! We ended up having such a great time together that we’re looking forward to our next trip!
We started out Saturday morning around 9 a.m. and ventured into North Carolina to the Billy Graham Library. My parents had seen the library on television but had never been in person. My dad’s face lit up when he saw the cross on the side of the library as we entered the parking lot.
It takes about two hours to tour the library, and you will not want to rush as you go through the informative exhibits. Beginning with Bessie, the cow, you will learn tidbits of information you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t taken the time to stop and allow yourself to enjoy the total experience.
My husband and I toured once before, but we learned a little more the second time we visited. My parents seemed to enjoy the new information they learned about Evangelist Billy Graham. My dad was moved to tears as we went through the library.
At the end of the tour, there is an invitation and opportunity to make a decision to follow Christ. If you need to recommit your life, you can do that as well. They have people to assist you with any questions at the end of the tour, and they will pray with you as you commit or recommit your life to Christ. That is priceless! As a matter of fact, there is no charge to tour the library, as the attendant told us Billy Graham did not want money to stand in the way of anyone coming to learn about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Touring the house, gardens, and library are absolutely free, and you are given the gift of eternal life through Jesus if you only believe, confess with your mouth, and accept Christ into your heart.
After touring the library, we moved to the childhood home of Billy Graham. The home was moved to where it presently sits out in front of the library. Around the side of the silo is the garden path which takes you to where Billy and Ruth Graham are buried on the property. We did not take my parents to the Graham’s final resting place due to the bitter cold that day, however. By the time we finished touring the library, we had enough time to drive an hour and a half further to check into our hotel and freshen up for the evening’s adventure to Korner’s Folly.
Carolers dressed in period clothing welcomed us on the porch of this unique home. I have to admit this was a really nice touch, and I was so looking forward to this part in particular. I wanted us to fully be emerged in the spirit of the holiday on our Christmas adventure, and we were not disappointed.
Once we stepped inside, we knew this house was unlike anything we have ever toured before. The house consisted of 22 rooms filled with the original furnishings and artwork complete with cast-plaster details, elaborate tile, which was hand laid, and carved woodwork. Built in 1880, Korner’s Folly was the home of mastermind Jule Gilmer Korner, an artist and designer.
I felt like a child as I went from room to room admiring all of the spectacular Christmas decorations. The sparkling and shining decorations were different in every room, and you could vote on the theme you liked best at the end of the night. It was truly hard to pick just “one” favorite, as they all stood out in their own Winter Wonderland way. From Snowmen to Nut Crackers and everything in between, there was something waiting to bring a smile to your face in every room you stepped into. As if the decorations weren’t enough, each room was unique in size and shape. For instance, when my dad entered the children’s playrooms upstairs, he had to duck way down to avoid hitting his head. Meanwhile, my mother and I, (5′ tall and 4′ 11″ tall), walked comfortably into the playrooms and began admiring all the toys from years gone by. This made us all laugh, and then it was on to the next room to find plenty more that made our eyes widen with excitement. Seeing my dad turning sideways squeezing through a narrow hallway and my husband going down an even more narrow flight of stairs where he had to draw his arms close to his side made us laugh almost hysterically. Oh, the wonder that was Korner’s Folly!!
As you can imagine, we worked up quite an appetite with all the touring that day, so we stopped for supper before heading back to our hotel to retire for the evening.
We rose early the next morning and had a hot made-to-order breakfast before setting off to explore the Reynolda House. Sticking with the sights and sounds of the holiday season, we were enticed by the “Comfort and Joy” theme they had going on that day. But first … Mast General Store was calling our name. There, we found items from our childhood that brought a smile, such as moon pies and RC Colas, candy cigarettes, and little bottles made of wax filled with flavored liquid. We took our time in that store thoroughly examining little blasts from the past to more modern merchandise. There was something in that store for everyone!
After cracking open the candy we purchased at the store, we headed to the Reynolda House. The cold Winter wind felt as if it were slicing right through our jackets as we exited our vehicle and walked toward the entrance where we waited outside for the doors to open. We welcomed the warmth of the sun as we waited. Much to our surprise, quite a large crowd grew before they opened the doors at 1:30 p.m. that Sunday. Once the doors were opened, it didn’t take us long to get through the line for tickets and on to the self-guided tour of the home. We were there the Sunday before Christmas when they had a live performance of Reynolda’s original 1917 Aeolian Organ! What a treat to have beautiful holiday songs from the first half of the 20th century playing from this grand instrument as we toured the museum.
This house, now a museum, made us think of The Biltmore Estates, but of course on a much smaller level. They had no need to leave the estate for entertainment as they had room for roller skating in the basement. What’s more, they had a bowling alley, a shooting range, a racketball court, a wine cellar, a bar, and an indoor swimming pool. What more could you possibly need?
While my husband and I took the stairs to the top floor, my parents used the elevator. Yes … they had an elevator in the house! Something that also surprised us was the history of the family that occupied the home, none other than R.J. and Katharine Reynolds and their four children. Reynolda was the vision of Katharine, and so she hired Architect Charles Barton Keen to design her dream house, and construction began in 1912. The formal gardens were originally laid out as part of the general site plan by Horatio R. Buckenham and Louis Miller and later replaced with Thomas Sears. Due to the frigid cold, we were not able to fully enjoy the grounds and outdoor space. However, we would like to return in Spring to see it in all of its glory when the gardens come to life yet again.
After touring the house, we stopped for a nice late lunch and then started the over three-hour drive back home. The long drive allowed for deep, meaningful conversation. Connecting and making memories was honestly what this trip was all about anyway. Time with family is the absolute most important thing, and it makes it even more special during the holiday season. We look forward to more opportunities to make memories in the new year!