By Suzanna Ritz Malliett
Kernersville’s most spectacular historic home, Körner’s Folly, takes on an extra layer of embellishment during the holiday season.
In 1878 when Jule Körner began constructing a combination living quarters, studio, and interior design showroom, he envisioned that these headquarters of his new business venture, the Reuben Rink Decorating & House Furnishing Company, would be a place of awe and inspiration for potential clients.
According to family legend, a passerby was dismissive of the 3-story structure’s odd appearance on Main Street, calling out loudly enough for Jule, who was overseeing the construction, to hear: “That building will be Jule Körner’s folly!” Jule, who by all accounts had a great sense of humor, as well as, a keen marketing mind, took no offense to the remark. As a trained artist, he must have known that in addition to being a word to describe a silly, wasteful act, “folly” also has an alternate definition: a building constructed primarily for decorative purposes. And so, Jule took the name “Körner’s Folly” as a badge of honor for his creation, even laying the name in tile on the front porch.
As the years passed at Körner’s Folly, the fantastical structure saw Jule’s marriage to Polly Alice Masten of Winston, the birth of their two children Gilmer and Doré, countless parties and gatherings in the elegant Reception Room, concerts and performances in Cupid’s Park Theatre, and of course, many family holiday celebrations. As a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring Körner’s Folly for the education and enjoyment of the public, it is our pleasure to present A Victorian Christmas, sponsored by H&R Block, during which Jule and his family’s historic house is transformed into an even more joyful embrace of the maximalist aesthetic.
In the early 2000s, previous Director Connie Martin Körner began the tradition of recruiting a special group of volunteers to adopt and fill each of the home’s 22 rooms with trees, garlands, ornaments, and displays that celebrate the extravagance of the Victorian period. This year’s theme, A Storybook Christmas, served as inspiration for the dedicated decorators, who have created beautiful interpretations of traditional Christmas and Victorian-era tales including The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, The Velveteen Rabbit, and more.
Visitors will be delighted by the charm of this bygone era during the holiday season, which runs from November 25, 2022 – January 7, 2023. Public, self-guided tours are offered from 10 am – 4 pm with the last entry at 3 pm, Tuesday – Sunday, with tickets available for purchase in advance at KornersFolly.org or on-site inside Aunt Dealy’s Cottage.
On November 26, Körner’s Folly will host a Holiday Market produced by Aixa Maria’s Gift Baskets from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Held outdoors on the lawn in conjunction with Small Business Saturday, this market will provide visitors with a one-stop shop for holiday gifts created by local makers and artisans; the market is free to attend.
In addition, Körner’s Folly will hold special evening events to offer a truly unforgettable experience. Christmas by Candlelight 2022 is presented by OutWest Steakhouse and Metcalf Family Dentistry. With costumed reenactors from Kernersville Little Theatre hosting guests and singing seasonal carols, Christmas by Candlelight will be offered on December 3 and 17 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm. Tickets are available at KornersFolly.org.
Adding to the festivities on Saturday, December 10, Körner’s Folly will host the Children’s Choir from First Presbyterian Church of Winston-Salem, NC for two holiday-themed concerts (11:00 am and 1:30 pm), as a part of the Kernersville Yuletide celebration. Concerts will be free for ticketholders.
As a tie-in to this year’s theme of A Storybook Christmas, visitors to Körner’s Folly are encouraged to participate in a Book Drive for Kernersville Elementary by bringing a new or gently-used book, appropriate for Kindergarten-5th Grade reading levels, for drop-off in Aunt Dealy’s Cottage upon arrival. Kernersville Elementary students visit Körner’s Folly each year for a field trip, and our organization is excited to pass along the spirit of the Christmas season with this initiative during our busiest time of year.
The Körner family legacy of hospitality, community, and creativity serve as guideposts for the Körner’s Folly Foundation, inspiring us to greater heights and deepened connection with our community with each passing year. Jule’s vision of a truly unique place, well-used, well-loved, and providing creative inspiration to all who enter, survives to this day – but especially thrives during the holidays.