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Christmas Tea helps keep local landmark open

LaGRANGE – Guests sipped and chatted over sweet Christmas tea at a fundraiser to support the upkeep of one of the area’s best examples of Greek Revival architecture on Sunday.

The LaGrange Woman’s Club hosted their annual Christmas Tea at Bellevue on Sunday to benefit the historic mansion located in the heart of downtown.

“It is just a fun fundraiser that we do for Christmas time,” said Valerie Cardwell. “We have the house decorated, of course, for Christmas.”

The decoration accented the iconic antebellum mansion that was built in 1853 by U.S. Senator and Congressman Benjamin Harvey Hill, who used his home to entertain guests visiting his 1,200-acre plantation. Hill was also a Confederate Congressman, and after the Civil War, he played an active role in Southern Reconstruction.

The home was purchased by the Fuller E. Callaway Foundation and presented to the LaGrange Woman’s Club in 1942. Since then the club has used funds raised from guided tours, event rentals, donations and fundraisers like the tea to maintain this piece of local history, so that future generations can experience a home from that era.

“This is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the South,” said Cardwell. “… Our goal is to have more school groups come through just as a great educational tool for what they are learning in class. When they come here, they get to talk about why there were no attached kitchens in this age, why there were no closets or bathrooms in these homes, what kind of heating they had, which is of course, fireplaces.”

Bellevue is located at 204 Ben Hill Street and has tours for the public on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Guided tours can be scheduled in advance and the home can be rented for meetings and parties by calling 706-884-1832.

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.