tour of homes 2

Progress photo by Cristin Ross Elisa and Charles Burk take a moment for a photo after hanging their Christmas stockings on the fireplace of their living room. The fireplace is constructed of rare tile that was imported from California in the 1930s. Get a peek of the show piece during the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s annual Tour of Homes.

By Cristin Ross

It’s seen a lot of Christmas seasons since being built in 1932, and the house once know as The English Manor is getting ready to invite its friends and neighbors inside for this year’s holiday staple — the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Tour of Homes.

The home, owned by Dr. Charles and Elisa Burk and located at 540 El Paso St., has been a part of the tour before, as the Burks are told by friends and acquaintances.

“People are always telling me they’ve been through my house,” Charles Burk said with a laugh. “I don’t know how many times it’s been on the tour, but apparently it’s been more than once.”

Since purchasing the home, the Burks have been thoroughly educated on its provenance. Both Burks excitedly recite the house’s history — telling of the Browns, who built the residence, to the Hollys, who refurbished it and opened as the English Manor Bed and Breakfast in 1994.

“The Browns moved here from up north somewhere,” Charles Burk said, “and opened a lumber mill. When he built the house, he took the best of what he had at his mill to build it. What he didn’t have — like the library (paneling) is cherry — he imported.”

Elisa Burk takes up the narrative at that point.

“Like the fireplace, too,” she said.. “It’s made of very rare tile the Browns had imported from California. When we bought the house, we were told do not under any circumstances make any changes to the fireplace.”

The Burks work hard to keep any changes they make compatible with the rest of the historic house.

“When we installed the pool in the back yard, we had it designed to match the house,” Elisa Burk said. “We wanted it to look like it was supposed to go with the house.”

Likewise, the Burks’ traditional family Christmas decorating theme works with the house.

“We don’t really have a theme except just what a family would have collected over the years,” Elisa Burk admitted. “Things the kids made, things we collect, since the house is only a home now.”

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s Tour of Homes is from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 9. Advance tickets are $5 and are available at the chamber office, 526 E. Commerce St. Tickets purchased the day of the event will be $7.

This year’s tour also includes the homes of Dirk and JoAl Sheridan, 1940 CR 4120; Phil and Marlene Jowell, 2916 Summit Dr.; Ron and Janie Hale, 2912 Summit Dr.; and hospitality business The Woods at Jacksonville golf course.

See Sunday’s Daily Progress for the third in the series on these homes.

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