The holidays are celebrated in grand style at the Heard-Craig House in McKinney’s historic district. The public is welcome to experience first-hand the beautifully decorated historic home, which is resplendent in its holiday décor.

The Heard-Craig House is located at 205 W. Hunt Street on the southeast corner of Hunt and Church streets. It is the cornerstone of the Heard-Craig Center for the Arts, which includes Katie’s Garden, the Carriage House and Heard-Craig Hall.

The Heard family enjoyed 70 years of holidays in their majestic home from 1900 - 1970. The house, built in 1900 by Stephen and Lillie Heard, has seen few changes since that time. The Heard's son, Fred, was 18 and their daughter, Katie, was 16 when the home was completed. The family’s memorabilia, art collection, correspondence, furniture and clothing offer visitors a fascinating glimpse of McKinney’s past.

Holiday Tea

The Heard-Craig initiated what has become a signature event, Tea & Conversation, 11 years ago. The tea series is offered throughout the year and culminates with Holiday Tea & Conversation in December. The teas include an entertaining program, followed by a sumptuous tea featuring savory treats and delicious desserts. Guests are encouraged to linger over tea and enjoy conversation with friends. A guided tour of the historic Heard-Craig House completes the afternoon.

This year, due to popular demand, there will be two holiday teas, on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. The holiday programs will showcase the talents of the McKinney High School Harmony group on Dec. 11 and the Boyd High School Jazz Choir on Dec. 12. Father Christmas is expected to arrive with a gift for everyone. Tickets are $25 for Heard-Craig League members and $30 for nonmembers. Reservations are required and should be made early, as the teas always sell out. For reservations or additional information, call 972-569-6909 or email bjohnson@heardcraig.org.

The holiday décor theme at the Heard-Craig House will reflect the Heards’ love of family. Guests will see glass ornaments, musical instruments, clothing and Christmas cards that belonged to Heard family members. The dramatic staircases will be draped with greenery, ornaments and ribbons. The fireplace mantles will be arrayed with beautiful  candlesticks, pine boughs, poinsettias, blown glassware and leaping reindeer. The decoration is elegant, providing inspiration for guests who often choose to replicate the designs in their own homes.

When you visit, the Heard-Craig gift shop will be filled with holiday gift items available for purchase. Also available will be The Heard Legacy, which was published last year and details the lives of the Heard family. Proceeds from the gift shop provide funding for Heard-Craig operational expenses.

 

Connection to the Past

The foresight of Kathryn “Katie” Heard Craig (1884-1970) led to the preservation of the home so that future generations could “learn somewhat of the past.” It was her dream that her family home would become a center for arts appreciation and for the “education and enlightenment of the women of McKinney.” She thought that if she could  provide a permanent meeting place for women’s clubs, they would continue to flourish and provide their members with unlimited educational opportunities. Today, 16 clubs with a combined total of nearly 1,000 members still meet in the Heard-Craig facilities.

Most women of Katie Heard Craig’s generation joined women’s clubs to further their education because the clubs were primarily educational or literary in nature. The clubs also raised money to build libraries, provide schools with books and complete civic beautification projects. These clubs have not only enhanced their communities through service projects, but they have also enhanced the lives of American women by providing educational enlightenment, social camaraderie, and a greater sense of self-worth and achievement. Katie’s vision and generous gifts have made it possible for thousands of women and men to enhance their lives through education, study and civic engagement.

Tours and a Charming Location

Today, tours of the historic Heard-Craig House provide insight into the lives of the members of this extraordinary family. Personal anecdotes, accomplishments, triumphs and tragedies bring the history of the family to life. Tours are $5 for adults and $3 for children, and they are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. and on Saturdays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.

Heard-Craig Hall, the Carriage House and Katie’s Garden are charming locations for meetings, receptions, weddings, concerts and theatre productions. Rentals are available throughout the year every day of the week, subject to availability. Heard-Craigsponsored events include a free monthly art history series called Art History Brown Bag; the annual Ladies Night Out in April; and Music in the Garden on Thursday evenings in April. In addition, the monthly Texas Writers & Words Series offers an opportunity for those interested in learning more about the craft of writing to hear from a variety of Texas writers.

For more information, visit the Heard-Craig website at heardcraig.org.

About the Author: Barbara Knight Johnson is Executive Director of the Heard-Craig Center for the Arts.