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Historic Canton Hall in Church Hill to host free Christmas event on Dec. 7

Jeff Bobo • Aug 31, 2019 at 6:30 PM

CHURCH HILL — The town’s oldest house will be hosting a new event in December featuring Christmas caroling, gingerbread houses, and other fun activities on the same day as the Church Hill Christmas Parade.

Hunter and Amanda Jackson are breathing new life into the 179-year-old Canton Hall at New Canton Plantation, which sat dormant and for sale for years on the far west end of Main Boulevard.

Christmas at the Mansion

Last week, the Jacksons told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of their plan to open up the plantation grounds to the public on Dec. 7 for a free event they’re calling Christmas at the Mansion.

Amanda Jackson told the BMA the event will include a variety of activities including a live Nativity scene, and she’s working with LampLight Theatre in Kingsport to sponsor it.

The event will also feature Christmas caroling, a visit from Santa Claus, a Christmas tree lighting, and a Children’s Zone, where kids can make old-fashioned Christmas ornaments to take home.

There will also be refreshments including popcorn, hot chocolate and coffee.

Of One Accord ministry fundraiser

Although it will be a free event, Christmas at the Mansion will also serve as a fundraiser for the Of One Accord ministry’s Church Hill Food Pantry, Medical Mission, and Lunch Box summer child feeding program.

There will be raffles as well as a gingerbread house making contest that will cost $25 to enter.

Amanda Jackson challenged the mayor and aldermen to compete in the gingerbread house contest.

The Jacksons are also organizing a Christmas tour of homes in Church Hill, Surgoinsville, and Mount Carmel as part of the Of One Accord fundraiser.

“Starting the day after Thanksgiving, people can decorate the exterior of their homes, and once they pay that ($25) fee, I’ll list their address on the New Canton Plantation website so people can drive around and look at the houses,” Amanda Jackson told the BMA.

There will be a judging for the best decorated home, and the winner will receive a yard sign announcing their victory, as well as their picture in the newspaper.

All proceeds from the gingerbread house contest, Christmas tour of homes, and raffles will be donated to Of One Accord’s Church Hill programs, which serve all of eastern Hawkins County.

Coincides with Christmas Parade

Christmas at the Mansion will be held Dec. 7 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and it will be on the same day as the Church Hill Christmas Parade, which usually starts at 11 a.m.

Mayor Dennis Deal said he liked the idea of both events taking place on the same day because it will give folks something to do after the parade.

Traditionally, every year after the parade ends, parade participants, city officials and Santa visit the Church Hill nursing home.

“When I come back through town (after the nursing home visit) it’s kind of sad because everything is over,” Deal said. “The parade is over and it’s done with. This here may ignite even more things.”

Volunteers will be needed

The Jacksons asked the BMA if the city could help direct traffic and allow parking on one side of Main Boulevard during the event.

“I would like to encourage as much participation as we can,” Amanda Jackson said. “I think this could be a great event for our community. It could be something where we share a lot of happiness and fun, give everyone something to look forward to, and it’s all going to a good cause.”

Volunteers will be needed to help with the event. More information is available on the New Canton Plantation Facebook page.

The history of Canton Hall

Canton Hall, 826 W. Main Blvd., was built in 1840 in the Jeffersonian style with 18-inch-thick walls, using more than 1 million handmade bricks.

It was originally the home of Eldridge Hord, who operated the 3,000 acre New Canton Plantation on the western outskirts of present day Church Hill.

At one time the plantation was home to a post office, general store and mill, and it produced corn, wheat and barley for 110 years.

The Jacksons purchased the plantation two years ago, have been renovating it, and moved in last year. Although Canton Hall was used as a wedding venue for years, Amanda Jackson told the Times News their immediate plan is to use the property solely as their residence.

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