Written By: Heather Lee Gordy | Photographed By: Samantha Lowe
Each year the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society (LCFHS) chooses a selection of historical sites to be featured in the Old Wilmington Candlelight Tour. For over 40 years, this traditional Holiday event has brought visitors and residents to the doorstep of many historical homes and buildings to take part in appreciating and sharing the history of Downtown Wilmington.
A different group of sites are selected each year, making this event worth going to year after year. Homeowners take the time to decorate their homes bringing forth Christmas lights and Holiday cheer the start of December. This year’s featured sites include: The Latimer House and past slave quarters, the Owens House, the Church of the Good Shepherd, the AKA Sorority House, the St. Stephens AME, the Seaton House, the Sullivan House, and the Hobart/Von Biberstein House. With the Latimer House being the LCFHS’s headquarters, it’s the only location
repeatedly on tour.
Also on tour this year is the Miles Costin House on South Fifth Avenue, which I had the pleasure of experiencing a sneak peek tour given by homeowners, Dr. Gary and Tony Kirkegaard. Christmas decorations will light up the loving home during the Old Wilmington Candlelight Tour. A Santa seated on the front porch and another one to welcome you when you enter the home, the dining room full of golds and reds along with the children’s Christmas trees where presents will be placed, and lavishing fire mantles that add to the warming embrace throughout the home.
This Italianate style home constructed in 1855 for Miles Costin and his wife, Catherine, has had many past lives. Operating once as Mrs. Robert Ramsom’s Female Seminary in 1871, then owned by John and Elizabeth Atkinson starting in 1885, and finally serving as a boarding house before leading to foreclosure, the Miles Costin House has collected its own beauty marks from each owner over the years accumulating history from different times. A Second Empire-style mansard roof was added when under the ownership of John Atkinson, and when Tony and Gary found the home, there had been many doors added that were left behind from the boarding school. That is what makes this home so unique—the feeling of each step that was taking before yours, and the thought of how many hands slid down those same stair railings and what their lives may have held.
Gary and Tony are making their own imprint on the home now. After the Miles Costin House went into foreclosure, there is no denying that it needed lots of love to bring it back to what the residents of Wilmington remembered it as—and that is exactly what Gary and Tony has given it. This home has come back to life since Gary, Tony, there two 16-year-old twins Austin and Brittney, and the family Airedale Terrier, Baron, moved into the home. With also housing two 16-year-old exchange students this year, Leo from Germany, and Louisa from Sweden, the Miles Costin House is a full family home capturing new memories that it can carry into the future.
The Old Wilmington Candlelight Tour takes place December 3rd, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m., and December 4th, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. If you haven’t purchased a ticket already, tickets are available for purchase at local Harris Teeter stores, The Ivy Cottage, and the Latimer House. Proceeds from the event benefit LCFHS’s education, preservation, and museum programs. For more information visit: www.lcfhs.org.