Historic mansion getting new life

NEW CANTON — After years of admiring the historic New Canton Plantation, two Church Hill Natives, Amanda and Hunter Jackson, are now pouring their love into their new home and restoring it to its former glory.

After two years of strenuous renovations, the Jacksons now want to share their appreciation for the mansion with the community through a free Christmas event they are calling “Christmas at the Mansion.”

Christmas at the Mansion

The festive and free event will be held in the property’s courtyard on Dec. 7 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. following Church Hill’s Christmas parade.

At the event, visitors can watch a live nativity scene from the LampLight Theatre, meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, watch as the large Christmas tree is lit, listen to the songs of Christmas Carolers, enter the Gingerbread Competition and eat some sweet treats.

There will also be a children’s area with crafts and coloring pages designed by Allen Davis, who is a former Disney artist.

Amanda Jackson has made a point to involve as many community organizations in the event as possible, so Volunteer High School’s Vol Capella group will be caroling, as will members of Church Hill’s First Baptist Church and The Promise Church.

The refreshments will be provided by Church Hill’s Food Lion and Food City as well as the new Kingsport business, Cornucopia Gourmet Popcorn.

All for a good cause

Though the event is free, Jackson hopes to raise money for Of One Accord Ministries through the Gingerbread Competition, a tour of homes and a raffle. The entry forms for each of these events can be found on the New Canton Plantation website at http://www.newcantonplantation.com/.

Jackson explained that her research indicates Of One Accord Ministries helped over 100,000 in Appalachia last year. She also hopes to target the organization’s Church Hill-based food pantry and free medical clinic with her fundraisers.

“I know that people are more likely to be sick during the winter, so the Free Medical Clinic needs more funding,” she explained. “Also, I am sure the food pantry is depleted after Thanksgiving.”

Though participants do have to pay an initial entrance fee to decorate a gingerbread house, the overall winner will receive a $100 prize.

Jackson wants to ensure that New Canton is not the only home decked out for Christmas, as she has also put together a tour of homes that encourages other community members to decorate their homes. Those who are interested will pay a small entrance fee that will be donated to Of One Accord Ministries. The participants addresses will then be posted on the New Canton Plantation website so that viewers can drive by and enjoy the scenery. Viewers can then vote on their favorite decorated home.

The raffle is already up and running on the New Canton Plantation Website and will only be available until Dec. 1. Participants can purchase tickets for a chance to win items such as a $100 Barter Theatre Gift Card, a Chick-Fil-A gift basket, a free night at the Hale Springs Inn or a Yeti Tundra 45 cooler.

All items have been generously donated from local businesses, and all proceeds generated from ticket sales will also go to Of One Accord Ministries. More information on Of One Accord Ministries can be found at http://ofoneaccordministry.org/, and a full list of generous community donors can be found with the online version of this article at http://www.therogersvillereview.com/.

Continuing a historic tradition

“We felt like we were so blessed when we were able to get the house,” Jackson explained. “It was just burdening my mind and spirit that we needed to give back in some way. I feel that, if you’re asked to do something, then you need to do it. So, that’s what I’m doing.”

She also explained that there were a lot of things that kept pointing her towards giving back in the form of a Christmas event.

Though this community event will be the first one the Jackson’s have hosted in their new home, it will hardly be the first held at the historic mansion.

“There was actually something that I read in the archives about a Christmas party when I was researching the house,” Jackson explained. “The house was built by slaves, and, because they got the house built earlier than expected, they had a Christmas dance and a Christmas party. The slave who oversaw construction was given a gold coin and offered the first dance at the Christmas party, which became an annual event.”

Jackson also explained that she hopes that the event can bring joy to community members who might be struggling during this holiday season.

“I am in the medical field, so I know that around the holidays we see the highest rates of suicide and domestic violence,” she said. “This was one of the things that kept pointing me in the direction of hosting a Christmas event.”

“It was our dream home”

Both Amanda and Hunter Jackson had always admired the New Canton Plantation, but Amanda Jackson explained that she never thought she would own the property.

“We have always loved this home and would drive by to look at it,” Amanda Jackson explained. “It was kind of our dream home.”

When the house came up for sale, the Jacksons were living in another Church Hill home and were considering moving but “were not actively looking.”

“My husband wanted property, and I wanted a house that suited me,” she said with a laugh. “One day I saw an announcement that the house was in foreclosure, so my husband and I made an appointment just to look at it.”

The couple made an offer on the house but didn’t really expect to get it.

“We just laid in bed that night and giggled about it,” Jackson said. “We thought, ‘if we end up with this house, what would we do?’”

When they got word that the house was theirs, Jackson explained that they “couldn’t believe it.”

Since that time, the couple have completed two years’ worth of renovations to restore the home back to its former glory.”

“This place was once the center of Church Hill,” Jackson explained. “It was where all the ‘happening things’ were because it was a working plantation. We just felt like it has been tucked away for a while, so now that we are here, we want to bring this place back to life again. It was a blessing, and we feel like it was where we were meant to be.”