First United Bank & Trust are proud sponsors of the 2017 Christmas Charity Tour of Homes.  The proceeds from this tour will be donated to the local charity – Samantha’s Funding the Arts – a non-profit organization that helps keep the ARTS alive in our schools and our community in Garrett County.

The tour will take place in four different locations in the Oakland area and will be held on Friday, December 1st and Saturday, December 2nd.  Tour hours on Friday will be from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Saturday, the hours are 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Today’s featured property includes a building that is known locally as the “Church by the Pond”. St. John’s Lutheran Church of Meadow Mountain is located along Route 495 (Bittinger Rd.) south of the intersection with Glendale Rd. and is a beautiful structure situated overlooking a large pond.

The church was organized in 1878 as part of a six-church charge based in Accident by Reverend J.J. Young. In 1883, the congregation grew to where they could build a wooden structure, dedicated on November 9, 1884. Previously, the congregation met at the Glendale Lutheran Church, the McRobie Schoolhouse, or in Alexander Lohr’s barn. In 1943, the original structure was deemed unsafe and the current building began construction. Services in the new church were held for the first time on May 14, 1944.

During the years since, the building has seen many improvements and upgrades including indoor plumbing, a kitchen, a complete restoration of the beautiful stained-glass windows, and the addition of a covered entrance. Many enhancements were added to support the worship services such as an electronic organ, replacement hymnals, and a large Amish-made wooden cross above the altar.

Again, this year, instead of decorating the tree in a traditional style, the congregation will be decorating the tree with donations to “It’s in the Bag”, an outreach program to provide nutritional meals and snacks for students attending Garrett County schools who would otherwise not have access to these foods on non-school days. Bags will be provided in the church for donors to place donations in the bag and then hang it on the tree.

The “Church by the Pond” is a beautiful addition to this year’s Christmas Tour of Homes.

The third amazing property on this year’s Christmas Charity Tour is the McCloskey Barn.

Whispering Pines Farm is owned by the McCloskey family –  Charlie, June, Nicole and her husband Dalton, and Joe.  Their oldest daughter Samantha Gibson was also raised on the farm.  Samantha was tragically killed in a car accident on December 9, 2012 and “Samantha Funding the Arts” was created in her memory.

The McCloskey family has lived on the farm for 21 years and happily raised their children as well as many 4-H animals.  The original farmhouse is well over 100 years old.   The original barn actually burned down in the 1940s and a new one was built in its place making the existing barn about 70 years old. In 2017 the barn was remodeled to host the McClosky’s daughter Nicole’s wedding in July. Adding a new floor, loft and using the old hay forks they made a chandelier. The farm was originally part of the Obrien family farm.

The fourth awesome property on the Tour and back by popular demand is Robert and Ruth Hinebaugh’s home.

Do you wish you could find the spirit of Christmas?  The feeling of love, kindness and joy of giving of yourself for the happiness of others. That’s the reason Rob and Ruth Hinebaugh are opening their home to you on the Christmas Charity Tour of Homes.  Their home located 18 East Liberty Street in Oakland beside the Masonic Temple parking lot, and across the street from Cabin Fever Antique Shop.   The house has the distinction of being ordered from a Sears and Roebuck catalog and coming into Oakland on a train.  It was built in 1907 and the home retains much of its original styling. Come and enjoy the feeling of Christmas. You won’t be disappointed!