Guarriello home to be featured in Heritage Christmas Home Tour

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Janet and Henry Guarriello, Sr. will let the public see how they decorate for Christmas, their favorite holiday. Their Federal-style home is open on Dec. 16 for the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce Heritage Christmas Home Tour. The couple was influenced by the architecture of Colonial Williamsburg when they built in 1997.

A visit to the Henry “Hank” and Janet “Jan” Guarriello home is a step back in time, to the elegance of Colonial Williamsburg. Indeed, the historic village in Virginia was the inspiration for the 1997 home of the Greencastle couple. Three years of construction brought them a spacious home with modern amenities seamlessy woven into authenticity with the past.

The public gets a rare chance to view the entire house during the Heritage Christmas Home Tour on Sunday, Dec. 16. The tour is sponsored by the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce. And because of the magnificence of the Guarriello home, it will be the only  stop on the tour, the first time that has been deemed necessary.

“Their house is so special it requires something different,” said Marissa Pinto Burt, a member of the Home Tour committee. “Since they are letting us tour all four floors, it will take longer to go through.”

Unique features

The house on Craig Road sits in the middle of 120 acres. It was constructed in the Federal style of the Georgian Colonial period. One of the Guarriello sons, an architect, designed it, with input from other sons on certain features. It is surrounded by three ponds, and Muddy Run passes through the front yard. The grounds are landscaped with 157 trees brought in years ago, and an orchard overlooks the property from a hillside.

The brick in the home is handmade. The molding and brass hardware are reproduction from the 18th century. The lighting came from a company that did all the work in Colonial Williamsburg. The floors are antique hardwood pine, with Persian rugs adding softness to the passageways.

The Guarriellos remain faithful to the old days in the formal dining room, which is illuminated only with candles. They are in two chandeliers over a long table. Other candles are mounted in various places throughout the house, also lit for special occasions.

Seven fireplaces are scattered throughout the nine-bedroom, 11-bathroom home. Three porches bring the outdoors inside. The basement holds areas dear to Hank, particularly an exquisite wine cellar and a mechanical room.

Christmas

Hank and Jan were surprised to learn theirs is the only house on the tour, but they will have it ready. Christmas is their favorite time to decorate. An organized basement storeroom holds artificial trees and all of the extraneous adornment for the holidays.

“Every room has a tree of sorts,” said Jan.

She uses a different theme in each room. Each tree gets specific decorations, including angels, nutcrackers, cookies and candy, or Raggedy Ann.

The couple puts live trees in each porch, and a large one in the spacious living room. They choose a Frasier fir from a tree farm in Virginia each year, but never know what it looks like until it is unwrapped in the room. Last year it was so wide it covered the patio double-door.

The Guarriellos use two ladders to decorate the main tree, and will cover it with white lights, red and gold ornaments, and gold ribbons flowing vertically. They hang greens all around, timing it so they are still fresh on Christmas Day.

Janet will also arrange 100 poinsettia plants for brilliant color adding to the festive atmosphere.

They give themselves time to get everything in place.

“It’s pretty intense for a whole month,” said Janet. “It’s a big job.”

The tour

Tickets are available at Carl’s Drug and at the Holiday House on the square prior to the tour Sunday. They are $20 each. The Home Tour runs from 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 16, but tickets will be split into two-hour shifts, so people have time to enjoy the home without overcrowding. Volunteers will be stationed throughout to direct the flow of the visitors. Pinto Burt planned for 20 helpers per shift.

In addition, parking will not be a problem, as ticketholders will park at a gravel lot halfway up the 3/4-mile driveway. From there a shuttle service will transport people to the house.

The Home Tour committee is honored that the Guarriellos are opening their home for the fundraising event, and are confident people will be impressed with the transformation of the house into a Christmas wonderland.

“There’s so much to see,” said Pinto Burt. “It’s wow! It is so amazing.”