Spotlight to shine on city homes, gardens

Published 6:19 pm Friday, April 5, 2019



Six houses in Franklin are to be featured for Historic Garden Week 2019 (April 27-May 4), which is presented by the Garden Club of Virginia. Regionally, the garden clubs of Franklin, Nansemond River (Suffolk) and Elizabeth River (Portsmouth) are responsible for Western Tidewater. Hosting duties alternate among the three and this time it’s Franklin’s turn. The local tour of houses will be among 31 in the state, and include nearly 200 private residences and gardens.

See for yourself what local residents will present on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here’s one example, 1401 Clay St., the home of Steve and Jane Gibson.

Built c. 1920, this home is a combination of a historical farm house design beneath stately trees, furnishings showcasing family history and craftsmanship, and a more modern reconfiguration of space to facilitate the owners’ entrepreneurial business.

The owners purchased the home in 2005. Exterior renovations include a brick and stamped concrete porch across the front between the porti chéré and side porch. The wide entry hallway features family wedding photos displayed on a garden trellis combined with an antique chest.

The owners both practice their love of music as organists in local churches. Of note in the living room is a hammered dulcimer handcrafted by Jerry Read Smith, as well as a piano in the dining room.

Many of the furnishings throughout are family antiques and handmade furniture combined with more modern wall hangings, needlework, watercolors, quilts, and fused glass made by the owner or her family members.

When the owner began her sweet potato biscuit business in 2009, she needed a large kitchen area for baking, cooling, and packaging. Walls were then removed to create a large, modern kitchen with a gigantic kitchen island and counter space, a corner banquette, red walls, white cabinets and modern window treatments designed and made by the owner. Fabrics combine traditional toile with modern animal-themed prints. This home is sure to provide many ideas for combining old and new to create an artistry of style.

Other houses to be featured on the tour:

• 1312 Clay St., home of Jerry and Dottie Grizzard

• 307 Meadow Lane, home of Ben and Joan Powell

• 139 Crescent Drive, home of Bobby and Diana Cutchins

• 1412 Clay St., the home of Kevin and Roberta Bowman

• 204 Meadow Lane, the home of Jenny Dixon

To learn about tours elsewhere in Virginia, or to find out more about the Garden Club of Virginia, visit or

SUSAN DUKE, publicity chairwoman for this tour, contributed to this article. Detailed descriptions of the houses are from her.