Patsy’s house ready for seasonHoliday open house will be held four weekends in December
Posted: November 30, 2012
The Winchester Star
Winchester — Ornaments made by Patsy Cline’s mother, Hilda Hensley, adorn the tree where the family lived in Winchester.
The Patsy Cline Historic House, 608 S. Kent St., Winchester, is dressed up for the holidays with special family touches provided by Patricia Brannon of Frederick County.
The public may visit for the next four weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
“The Christmas tree is dedicated to Hilda and Patsy,” said JudySue Huyett-Kemp, executive director of the house, owned by Celebrating Patsy Cline. “Some are fabric ornaments Hilda had on her tree.”
The award-winning singer was born and raised in the Winchester area. Her career was cut short when she died at 30 in a Tennessee plane crash in March 1963.
The home was where Cline — born Virginia Patterson Hensley on Sept. 8, 1932 — developed as a singer.
Brannon, Hensley’s niece, has been a source for historic accuracy not only during the holidays but for curating the house since it opened to the public in August 2011.
“Just about everything is in the same place as it was when the family lived here,” Brannon said Wednesday while helping to decorate the house.
But opening to the public has caused some changes to be made.
The coffee table had to be removed from the center of the living room for safety reasons, she reported, and the piano was not always situated by the fireplace. but by the front door where a handicapped ramp is now located.
Brannon spent many hours at the house where Hensley taught Brannon the skills of sewing and dressmaking she still uses today.
She has continued the family tradition and has made some of the ornaments in the same fashion as her aunt.
“Hilda made some and I made some,” she said. “It was Hilda’s idea (to make the angels out of fabric leftovers).”
Another special ornament placed on the tree by Brannon is a red cardinal hair clip that belonged to Patsy, said Huyett-Kemp. “The decorations are simple but homey and authentic to the time.”
The Apple Valley Garden Club joined in the festivities decorating parts of the house with fresh greens and berries for the second year.
Marilyn Steere of Frederick County, president of the club, which has about 10 members, said the group enjoys decorating the house. “We are small but mighty.”
Docent David DeCarlo of Hagerstown, Md., joined the holiday decorating and made Hensley’s recipe for walnut cake, which he shared with the other helpers.
“David said he liked Patsy so much, he would work every single day,” Huyett-Kemp said.
In addition, DeCarlo crafted special wooden ornaments in the colors of the western outfits — complete with fringe — Hensley made for Cline. They will be sold in the gift shop housed in the kitchen, which is full of replicas of memorabilia of Cline and her music.
Cline signed her first record contract while living at the house, and it was the location of her preparations for the Arthur Godfrey show in 1957.
The house was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 2005 and later that year was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Cline was the first solo female singer to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry — in 1960.
“Crazy,” one of her best-known songs (written by Willie Nelson), was named the No. 1 jukebox hit of all time in 1997.
Among her many honors, Cline was the first woman to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the first solo female country star commemorated on a stamp by the U.S. Postal Service.
She is buried in Shenandoah Memorial Park, just south of Winchester.
The house will be open for holiday tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday and Dec. 8, 15, and 22 and from 1 to 4 p.m. this Sunday and Dec. 9, 16, and 23. Cost is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 65 and older, $5 for ages 11 to 18, and free for military with ID and ages 10 and under.
The house will re-open for the season April 1. Call 540-662-5555.