Webster Home Featured on EDS Tour
The 33rd annual Episcopal Day School Candlelight Tour of Homes will be held Sunday, Dec. 5, from 1 to to 6 p.m.
This year's annual tour features five homes in Pinehurst and Southern Pines, each uniquely decorated for the holiday season. Talented local musicians will be entertaining in the residences.
Proceeds from the Candlelight Tour fund a variety of needs at EDS, including technology and media, educational materials and supplemental educational programs for the EDS students and teachers.
Passing through Southern Pines, while living in Argentina 28 years ago, Jean Webster and her husband, Jack, fell in love with their 1920s Aymar Embury home. Embury, an American architect best known for his commissions from Princeton University and the city of New York from the 1930s through the 1950s, designed many buildings in the area including Mid-Pines, the Theater Building in Pinehurst and several buildings on Northwest Broad Street in Southern Pines.
The Websters had traveled extensively across the world and spent many years in South America, living in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. When Jack decided to retire, Southern Pines captured their hearts, and Embury's strong sense of balance is what drew them to the home.
Upon entering the home, visitors are immediately presented with some of the rich history of the countries to which they have traveled. In the foyer, the beautiful French mirrored table, bought at a flea market in Argentina, is flanked by Venetian processional lamps.
The guest bedroom off the foyer provides quiet respite from the main center of the home. The walls are flanked with interesting Chilean paintings accenting the tongue and groove walls. As visitors exit the guest bedroom into Jean's sitting room/home office, they can't help but wonder if you've entered a curator's room.
A collection of pre-Columbian Peruvian pottery occupies the entire wall above her desk. The early Peruvian civilizations buried these pieces with their departed, along with food and water to sustain them on their trip to the next world. They depict many aspects of these ancient peoples' lives - twins, music, animals, food, etc. ‚ and represent many different cultures spanning more than 2,000 years. A 17th-century painting from Cuzco, Peru, and a silk-screened panel of an Indian runner draw the eye and provide a sneak peek at the great "museum" room to come. Next to the Peruvian panel is a masterpiece close to Jean's heart - a self-portrait pencil drawing by her son Neil, completed while at art school. This work of art, meticulously detailed, would first appear to be a photograph. The window seat overlooking the gardens and pool house allows soft light to reflect on the visual delights of the room.
As much as there is to see in the sitting room, the great room houses many treasures and religious relics, which are an inspiration of faith. The arched, beamed ceilings allow light from the floor to ceiling windows, and French doors on each side to bounce and highlight the beautiful art throughout the room. The Argentinean, Peruvian and Spanish paintings reflect the various artistic styles and influences from the 17th century to the present. The Peruvian painting from the 1700s was painted by Indians taught by Jesuit priests to paint in the Spanish religious style. Against that same wall is a 17th-century Spanish "vargueno." This cherished piece was designed to store church documents and be placed on an ox-drawn cart and travel with a senior priest or church official to the remote villages where all the births, deaths and marriages were promptly recorded. The vargueno is topped by an Ecuadorian wood carving of the nativity scene.
There are santos (carved wooden figurines of different saints) from Portugal, Spain and South America, which run along the ceiling line and are clustered on a brass chest. Catholic families of the time lit candles and prayed to their favorite saints when they needed help.
Jack Webster, who died in 2008, made crosses for Emmanuel Episcopal Church and built the large coffee table centered in the room.
"As you leave the great room and enter the dining room, take note of the 17th-century carved Spanish chest and look for the face of Christ in one of the two Chilean paintings," says a spokesman. "The artist was a well-known architect by profession, so his paintings reflect his structural detail."
The Venetian processional lamps, continued from the foyer, anchor each corner in the back of the dining room.
The den provides a cozy refuge to sit by the fire with family and friends with the Peruvian leather table and footstool. The window-box seat offers a central location for sunny days. Grouped together are Chilean paintings by a landscape artist who was known to have an appreciation for wine and would sell his landscapes to indulge in his favorite pastime. The horse painting over the mantel is by an Argentinean muralist and is accompanied by folk ceramics from Chile.
The den opens to the exterior brick walkway, which winds around to other areas on the property (not open on the tour), including the pool, guest cottage and greenhouses. The Swedish ivy and green gate will direct visitors out the back
Tickets for the Candlelight Tour cost $15 in advance or $20 the day of the event. They can be purchased from any Episcopal Day School student, the school office, and at The Country Bookshop, Natures Own/195 and Gulley's Garden Center, in Southern Pines; One Eleven Main, in Aberdeen; and Lady Bedford's Tea Parlor and Gift Shoppe and Cool Sweats, in Pinehurst.
Tickets are available online at www.episcopalday.org or call (910) 692-3492.
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