Tucked away in a corner of Uptown is a neighborhood so charming and so thoroughly distinct, the uninitiated might think they've stumbled into another city. Steeped in a history of turn-of-the-century political power and whispered tall tales of brothels and bootleggers, Fourth Ward is a fascinating mix of Victorian architecture, modern condos, secret gardens and brick-paved sidewalks in the shadows of Tryon Street's skyscrapers.
For 30 years, the residents of Historic Fourth Ward have opened their homes for the holidays. What started as a seasonal house crawl for neighbors has blossomed into one of the Queen City's most respected home tour events.
And on Dec. 5, 6, and 7, take a stroll and peek into some of the neighborhood's most sophisticated dwellings. Tours on Friday and Saturday take place at night, so guests can enjoy crackling fireplaces, twinkling lights and the candlelit glow of sumptuous holiday décor. Sunday hours offer an opportunity to see every detail of the neighborhood – including abundant public art – by daylight.
During all tour hours, carolers of all ages will stroll the streets, and handbell ringers and choirs will grace Victorian front porches. Complimentary horse-drawn carriages will allow visitors to explore the neighborhood from a different vantage point.
If that's not enough, tour-goers can sample food from restaurants such as GW Fins and Press, and enjoy breathtaking skyline views from the swanky terraces of the Trademark and Avenue – a privilege usually afforded only to homeowners.
Demographically diverse, the neighborhood is a microcosm of modern urban life. Power brokers hustling to work on foot, drop their children at day care and share sidewalks with retirees, culinary students, pets and kids on skateboards.
The Fourth Ward Holiday Home Tour includes admission to seven private Uptown homes and the beautiful Gothic Revival-style First Presbyterian Church – organized in 1821 as the Queen City's first church. On Sunday only, guests can also tour the historic McNinch House restaurant and Victorian home.