When it comes to a cozy holiday at home, Nancy and Carol Carpenter of Columbus, Mississippi have it down pat. “Home” for the holidays takes place in the Southside Historic District of Columbus in a house chock full of tales. Nancy and Carol moved to the Barry House 25 years ago when they relocated to Columbus from Jackson. Built in 1838, the Italianate two-story home is known for its intricate millwork and still boasts the original cypress beams and heart pine floors. The house was named after William Sullivan Barry, a graduate of Yale Law, Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, U.S. Congressman and President of the 1860 Secession Convention. It was also later the home of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Arnold. “We always say that these walls have probably heard some really great conversation and have some tales to tell,” says Nancy.
The home features the original six over six paned jib windows and doors in hand-blown glass that open from the front parlor onto the veranda, allowing for a gorgeous holiday view. “Holidays are a big deal in our house,” says Nancy. “This home has always felt like a home. Between its history and always having family here, it is definitely home.”
Each year, the Carpenters decorate a 12-foot fresh Christmas tree that reaches to the house’s 14-foot ceilings. “Each of our ornaments really mean something special,” says Nancy of her collection of trinkets and baubles that adorn her tree. “I have a lot of ornaments that belonged to my parents that hold a really special meaning. Many of our ornaments were made by our children or bought on special trips.” Toy soldiers pay homage to her son’s service at the United States Military Academy and in Iraq. Fresh magnolia wreaths grace the home’s front doors and silver deer figurines are scattered throughout the home.“The deer are indicative of Mississippi. Every time I drive to Jackson, I have to dodge them on the way.”
Each Christmas Eve, Nancy, Carol and their family attend service at First Baptist Church of Columbus and return home to a spread of food. “It’s a really special time for our family,” says Nancy, who enjoys making fresh, homemade breads to enjoy, a craft she learned from her father. “My daddy’s homemade roll recipe is one of our favorites.” Other family indulgences are cranberry orange nut bread, rosemary focaccia, smoked salmon, roasted turkey adorned with herbs Nancy grows herself, blackbottom pie and lemon buttermilk pie.
“Really, when it comes down to it, for our family, the holidays are all about having our children here and celebrating,” says Nancy. “Everything revolves around our faith, our family, our friends and our food.”