Every year, thousands of people flock to the Merrehope and F.W. Williams homes to see the beautiful Trees of Christmas. This year was the 44th installment of the annual fundraiser with dozens of local organizations decorating the trees around the two homes. Now that the event is over, organizers are seeing just how successful the 44th annual Trees of Christmas was.
Betty Lou Jones, president of the Meridian Restorations Foundation, tells us, "We haven't counted all our money yet, but we do know that we had a successful year. The brunch was very successful. We had lots of tourists and lots of tours. We didn't have as many school groups, but we had a lot of church groups."
The money raised will be going directly towards restoration of the F.W. Williams home. If you remember, the Williams home was damaged by a pine tree during Hurricane Katrina. Now, Jones tells us, it is important that they begin work to keep things from getting worse.
"We're going to start on the exterior because that is urgent," Jones states. "It's urgent for us to do some of the repairs to keep any more damage from being done. The interior of the home was not damaged, but there will be some things that we need to do on the interior as far as repairing."
Restoring an older home back to its original look involves a lot of research, and officials with the Meridian Restoration Foundation have already begun looking at what all needs to be done.
"We're working now with the Department of Archives and History and with other agencies and other people who are very familiar with houses of this age, and you just have to know how to do a house of this age. You have to work very carefully, and that's what we've been working on and preparing, and we're ready to begin that work," Jones explains.
Next year is the 45th Trees of Christmas, and Jones tells us the theme will be "Christmas Around the World."