The rains came softly Saturday to Apalachicola, and did not deter a steady flow of visitors who took in Trinity Episcopal Church’s 21st annual Home and Garden Tour.
A blend of restored historic homes, and state-of-the-art new ones, along with a variety of gardens, greeted more than 700 people who took part in the tour, a major fundraiser for Trinity’s ongoing effort to restore and maintain its historic church buildings.
“In spite of the weather it went very good,” said Bella Rudo, who co-chaired the tour together with chair Carrie Kienzle. ”We don’t have final numbers in, but from our first summary; it was one of our best tours.
“We had people who came from nNorth and South Carolina, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Canada, and a lot from Florida, Alabama and Georgia,” she said. “It was very exciting to see people from farther destinations than the big semi-circle around Apalachicola.
“One lady said that from all the tours in Carolina, she said she enjoyed ours as much because our homes were so diverse,” said Rudo. “She said it was an exciting and nice diversity and she really enjoyed that. Another lady I met has been to every tour but one. We see people who really enjoy it.”
The tour featured a dozen homes and gardens, highlighted by the century-old Flowers/Daly home at 36 Ninth Street that Ed and Candace Springer have transformed through décor and artistry into a setting of unique splendor. Candace Springer’s pique assiette mosaics enhance both the inside and outside, from bathrooms and lamps, to the garden and pet cemetery.
The tour opted to include another home a car’s drive out of town, the Cypress House at 207 Bay City Road, and that proved to be popular as well. That home, now owned by Lee and Jim Person, was built 18 years ago by Don “Cairo” Ingram, a sawmill owner who could afford to use expensive old growth cypress to construct the house, with the woodworking help of local craftsmen Bobby Siprell and Corky Richards
“People were there until after 4 p.m. they made the effort to go out there and see it,” said Rudo. “It was an experiment for us, and the feedback was great.”
The tour included several new homes, each with touches of modern architecture and appliances, such as the homes on Avenue G of Celia and Dennis Winterringer, and Uta and Keith Hardy, as well as the 35-year-old stucco home of Becky and Roy Morton, overlooking the water at Avenue B adjacent to Lafayette Park.
Two 19th century homes once owned by the Wing family, and now owned by Susan and Hall Bryant, were on the tour, an imposing mansion at 23 Seventh Street and a modest Gulf Coast cottage next door. Nearby was the Hodges Cottage at Tenth Street, now owned by Helen Willis Escobar.
At 19 Avenue C, a home built around 1900 and long owned by the George Family, was on the tour, as the Blue Moon Inn, restored by Susan and David Morgan. Included in their restoration was a Greek flag painted on the ceiling of the family room, and now restored.
The gardens of Patrice and Jim Williar at 31 Ninth Street; of Dee and John Crusoe at 134 Avenue D; and of Alan Pierce, at 183Avenue D; were all part of the tour.
Rudo, who will serve as chairman next year, said numbers were good at all the tour events, including the luncheon, which served more than 200, and the sealed bid auction, which exceeded last year’s numbers. She said church members and community folks showed themselves strong supporters of the Pillar program, donations that feed the fund for restoration of historical buildings.
Rudo said the recently completed work on the church façade and Benedict Hall was funded through two years’ worth of tour money. “All the painting, it was scraped down to bare wood, and we still have more to do,” she said. “We need to replace the roof, steeple repair and more at Benedict and once we finish those things we have to go to the rectory, where there’s some leaking. We’re trying to do one thing at a time.”
Rudo said organizers were pleased with turnout at Friday’s Preservation symposium (see sidebar). “The people who came loved it and we had great speakers,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll come up with something with a different twist next year that we can offer. Our goal is to make it enticing to get people there. We’re still open to possibly doing it next year”
Rudo said the tour drew on the work of more than 90 greeters, and a total of 150 volunteers, and likely brought in about $30,000 that once all expenses are paid, will go towards restoration efforts. In addition, she thanks the generosity of several local businesses in helping to make the event a success.
A cocktail party Thursday night was marked by the presentation of the Apalachicola Area Historical Society’s Cornerstone Award to the Dixie Theatre, for all of its work on the historic theatre.
The tour weekend began Friday night with an Evensong service, that brought in to join Trinity’s vocalists a choir from Port St. Joe’s First Methodist Church, directed by Ann Comforter, with piano accompaniment by Janis Ramos.
“The church was full and the service was beautiful,” said Rudo