Visitors in the houses of God
Visitors to St. John¿s Episcopal Church during the 2011 tour of historic Hagerstown churches saw the ornate altar and reredos carved of oak from the Black Forest of Germany. St. John¿s is one of 16 churches open to the public during the 2012 tour of historic houses of worship in and near downtown Hagerstown. (File photo / December 20, 2012)
Fine art in a museum display? No. Inspirational art in historic Hagerstown churches.
Sixteen churches in and near downtown Hagerstown will open their doors to the public Wednesday, Dec. 26, in the second annual walking tour of historic houses of worship.
The idea is for churches to open their doors and share their historic structures — plus music, refreshments, holiday decorations and post-Christmas relaxation — with the public.
This is the second annual tour. The first tour was organized by Bruce Massey, Deanna Soulis and Pat Abeles, members of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Soulis said the 2011 tour was a resounding success.
One change from last year: An earlier start time. Soulis said people wanted to visit churches during daylight to see better their stained glass windows.
Another change: More churches.
“We wanted to keep it in the historic area downtown,” Abeles said. “Then a lot of other churches put their hands up and said they wanted to be invited.”
Most of the 16 churches are within two or three blocks of Public Square, but there are also three churches in the Washington Square neighborhood in the West End and one church on North Cleveland Avenue, near Fairgrounds Park.
Last year, a trolley offered transportation among the churches, but the high volume of participants overwhelmed the trolley. This year, Soulis said participants will get around on their own.
“It’s a walking-driving tour,” she said. “People can park at the church parking lots or on the street.”
Participants on the tour may start at any church and visit as many as they want. Several churches are in clusters, Soulis said, and it’s easy to walk from one to another.
She said many churches on the tour will have luminarias marking their entrances. Most churches will have music and refreshments. All will highlight their history and their sacred architecture.
“Every church will have docents available,” Abeles said. “A lot of churches will have individual brochures of the church’s history.”
Going from church to church is at the pace of participants. The evening wraps up at 8:15 with carol singing at Trinity Lutheran Church at the corner of Randolph and North Potomac streets.
Also, three downtown establishments will be open during the tour. Bulls & Bears and 28 South will serve customers, and Oak Hill Interior Design on North Potomac Street will have refreshments.
For more information and brochures detailing church locations, contact the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 301-791-3246 or go to www.marylandmemories.com.
If you go ...
WHAT: Holiday tour of Hagerstown houses of worship