The historic homes of Union Street lit up over the weekend for the first Colorful Lights Historic Concord Walking Tour.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in September, about 50 homes along Union Street will be lit up with colorful lights starting at 7 p.m.
Kat Cornelius, local artist and founder of TuxedoKat Imaginarium, got the idea to light up Union Street after placing her Bookmark sculpture in the front yard of a historic home earlier in the year.
While driving down Union Street, she saw a home lit up with rainbow floodlights and wondered what it would be like for every house to be lit with color. Then she saw an opportunity to get people from around and outside the Concord area to come and learn more about the city’s history.
“Concord’s main attraction, in my point of view, is the history of the homes on Union Street,” Cornelius told the Independent Tribune.
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Cornelius brought the idea to Residents of Historic Concord President Randy W. Hopkins, who helped pitch the idea to the board. Once it was approved, Cornelius and Hopkins started approaching homeowners about the plan.
In total, they were able to secure nearly 50 homes to participate in the walking tour — 20 on North Union Street and 36 on South Union Street.
Hopkins also helped secure sponsors for the event to help fund floodlights for participating homes. Cornelius even sponsored a home that had a special meaning for her.
She sponsored the Addie Foil House, the home she originally saw lit up with rainbow lights that kickstarted the entire project.
Cornelius also wanted the walk to be educational and provide viewers with an opportunity to learn more about each house. Hopkins had just the girl for the job. Her granddaughter, Isabella Case, is an undergraduate studying historic preservation.
Case helped put together information for a home guide by going to the deeds office, working with Historic Cabarrus and researching any previous publications on the houses.
Hopkins said for some homes, this is the first time some people in the community will learn about them.
“It was about answering people’s questions and curiosity,” she explained. “A lot of people are interested in the houses, so this medium was the first one that really provided an opportunity for the homes that haven’t been published to have them highlighted. Whether they were constructed in the late 1800s or in 1970 or ’80, they still get to have their story told. The wonderful thing about this district, what I love about this historic district, is that these aren’t cookie-cutter homes. They did have various architectural styles.”
Hopkins said the walking tour helped fill in the gap of the Christmas home tour that was canceled last year due to the pandemic. That tour has been canceled again this year.
The walking guide and historic information for each home can be found through a QR code displayed in front of each house on the walking tour. The guide has information on every illuminated house, gives information on architectural features, when the home was built, the style of the home, historic pictures, timeline of ownership, and some historic stories and facts connected with the home.
Printed guides are available at participating businesses in downtown Concord for $5.
Guides can be found at:
Press & Porter Coffee & Pourhouse
Union Street Market in Concord
Budget Blinds of Concord
The Bead Lady
Union Street Market
Cornelius designed the guide and said she was blown away by the information Case found and has enjoyed getting to know Concord more during the project.
“By me just taking her information and designing the guide, I learned a lot just from the visuals, and now that I go by the houses I know a lot more about them,” she explained. “I have even been in contact with the owners and have even been inside on tours from doing all of this.”
She hopes that the walking tour will get people from outside Concord interested in downtown and have them checking out the local shops.
For those trying to get in some fresh air and exercise, the tour is 2 miles one way and a 4-mile loop.
And since the event is outdoors, along sidewalks and self-guided, it will help families participate.
“I feel like the colorful lights aspect of it and seeing just how old some of these houses are will engage kids, introduce them to the history,” Cornelius said.
Look for the Colorful Lights Historic Downtown Walking Tour signs to access the digital guide or drop into a participating store for a print copy before heading out to see the lights.