EARLIER: Let the holiday season begin

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By Lisa King

Wakefield-Scearce Galleries will be holding its annual Christmas Gala until Saturday.

Located at historic Science Hill at 525 Washington Street, this multiroom gallery features myriad holiday treasures for sale, as well as other antiques, for which the gallery is well-known.

Decorator Patti Wilson said the gallery holds a Christmas Gala each year as a unique way to kick off the holiday season.

"It's a way to showcase new merchandise, and for many people, they know that the holidays are here when we hold our gala," she said. "We've built a tradition on that."

The huge Christmas tree in the center of the main gallery is the most important centerpiece of the event, Wilson said.

"That tree is our signature," she said.

Other rooms in the gallery also feature a tree, each decorated with a different theme, such as the "Jimmy Buffett" tree upstairs.

In addition to holiday fare, Wakefield Scearce also continues to showcase its antiques.

"We also have a Harvest Room," Wilson said. "There's something here for everybody, because we don't want to lose sight of the fact that our antique business is what we're known for."

Another thing the gallery is famous for is customer service.

"We have many nice shops with very affordable merchandise, such as the Country Lady Boutique," Wilson said. "You don't have to go to Louisville to find something nice, and you can't go anywhere else and get the level of friendliness and helpful service you will find here."

Wakefield-Scearce is located at Science Hill, an historic structure that once served as a girls' school, which was opened in 1825 by Julia Ann Tevis, a young educator who was ahead of her time.

She endeavored to teach the girls not only the rudiments of education along with the social graces; she also educated them in the sciences, a practice unheard of in those times – thus the school's name – Science Hill.

The institution eventually became one of the most prominent girls' schools in the United States. The building was expanded and enjoyed great prosperity until 1939, when it graduated its last class.

In 1947, Mark Wakefield and Mark Scearce leased the eastern portion of Science Hill, founding Wakefield-Scearce Galleries, with the intent of selling antiques of British origin. Scearce renovated the facility in 1981, opening four new shops.

Today, Science Hill is divided into three major sections, the Gallery, the Courtyard and the dining room. The gallery, with 32,000 square feet of showrooms, still serves in its original retail capacity, selling primarily British antiques.

The Courtyard houses five shops that sell fashionable apparel, silver, linens and Christmas ornaments.

The dining room is open to the public year round, serving lunch from 11:30 to 2:30 Tuesday through Sunday.