After a week of rainy weather, the sun came out on Saturday and smiled on the 22nd annual Historic Apalachicola Home and Garden Tour.
Organizers said they believe they lost a number of visitors from areas west of Panama City due to the impact of severe storms earlier in the week, including two groups from Pensacola that cancelled ticket reservations.
All told, about 700 visitors took in this year’s tour which organizer Susan Clementson said was in line with the numbers attracted in 2012 and 2013. Almost 250 luncheons were served by the ladies of Trinity Episcopal Church, which sponsors the tour.
With some yards temporarily converted to lakefront property, tour organizers took a proactive approach to damage control and distributed disposable booties to homeowners to encase damp footwear. Pam Richardson went even further at her Ninth Street cottage and created brick stepping-stones the morning of the event to provide guests with a waterless walkway.
There was a bright side to the unusually wet spring. Lawns and gardens were sparkling fresh and beautifully green. The temperature was also perfect for walking and biking around town, and stormy days had swept the air clean of seasonal pollen.
The line-up of homes and gardens on this year’s tour was outstanding. The Whiteside Wheatley house was the featured home on this year’s tour. Briana Wheatley, originally from Dallas, Texas, purchased the house two years ago and moved here in 2013. She said the house, built for George H. Whiteside, owner and operator of the Apalachicola Ice and Canning Company, in the Gothic Revival Style, circa 1872, had undergone major renovations before the purchase and that her work was largely cosmetic rather than structural.
“It was more a case of bringing the house back. It had been vacant for a few years,” said Wheatley.
Of course, she repainted with her own unique color scheme and redid the garden with help from Bill and Amanda Kollar.
The Dodd/Galloway house on Avenue C featured a welcoming foyer and wrap-around porch furnished for comfort as well as style. The removal of a wall created a freestanding brick fireplace that is the focal point of the kitchen and great room.
V.G. Sangaree’s home, built in 1949 for a local undertaker, is now home to Francine and Jeff Huntington who have traveled extensively during a career in teacher education. They furnished their permanent nest with souvenirs from around the world including a trousseau chest from India, a folding butler’s table and artifacts from Africa and Ireland. Jeff entertained visitors with stories about the furnishings and their places of origin.
An interesting feature of the Huntington home is a detached kitchen/laundry connected to the house by a covered walkway. Francine said that although there is a modern kitchen in the main house, she uses the outdoor annex, especially in hot weather.
V. G. Sangaree’s brother, Ronat, once lived on 17th Street and his cottage is now home to Carole and Michael Seibert. The new owners replaced existing flooring with river-recovered heart pine.
Michael Seibert is a sculptor and examples of his work in painted cypress adorn the home and surrounding lawn along with fanciful pieces by other artists. He shares his studio with spouse, Carole, who is a painter.
The clean, simple lines of the interior are accented with pieces of bright furniture and the couple’s cats lent a homey touch. Big Red, a yellow tom, acted as greeter at the front door. Antique bedsteads, indirect lighting and simple clean linens create a restful setting in the bedrooms.
Longtime Apalachicola resident June Dosik graciously opened her lovely home to guests this year. The house and grounds are a study in comfort and practicality. The yard features a screened gazebo and lap pool. Inside, the house is a series of cozy niches for relaxing, dining and contemplation.
“I think it’s just perfect for one person,” said Dosik.
Lynn and Bill Spohrer opened their Avenue B Victorian “Lynn Haven” for the second time on this year’s tour. The home can best be described as stately with a well-appointed yard and wrap-around porch. The first floor is designed for entertaining and expansive open sitting areas and a dining room for 10 is accented with museum class antiques and a grand piano.
The kitchen testifies to Spohrer’s culinary aptitude. Tucked to one side is a cozy sitting room where the family can enjoy Sunday morning newspapers and classic movies together.
On 10th Street, the tiny Lauver/Sawyer house was full of surprises. The 800-square foot cottage features painted hardwood floors and lots of eclectic art and artifacts including two Clyde Butcher photographs.
The Richardson/Gallant house, less than two years old, was built to blend with traditional Apalachicola architecture. The Florida cottage has local style but state-of-art fixtures, with furnishings that reflect the owners’ New England heritage. The focal point of the great room is a painting of Richardson’s great-great-great grandmother. The owners preserved so much of the lush foliage on their lot that visitors during the tour speculated on how equipment used to build the house had accessed the lot. A screened porch at the rear of the home allows residents to enjoy a shady retreat without bugs.
One of the most unusual stops on this year’s tour was the Nancy and Richard Dagenhart house on Frederick S. Humphries St. The owners purchased a shotgun house on a half-lot intending to restore it but the cottage proved unsalvageable. Dagenhart, an architect then designed a replacement that makes good use of every inch of buildable space. The house has a side entrance. The main living area is 10’ by 52’ but 20-foot ceilings give the great room an expansive feel. High shelves display the Dagenhart’s collection of snow globes. A sleeping loft maximizes space and a galley kitchen makes the most efficient use of cooking facilities. To the rear of the home, a cozy reading area and screened porch provide escape and privacy for residents.
As a special treat, this year, The Chapman Auditorium, built in 1931, opened its doors for the tour. In 2013, the massive Art Deco structure was listed as one of Florida’s 11 most endangered buildings after the state of the auditorium was analyzed by a master’s candidate from Florida State University. The future of the building, which houses the offices of Dr. Shezad Sanaullah, is currently under discussion.
Two gardens rounded out the dance card for participants in this year’s tour. The Bond garden sequestered in a fenced and gated yard is a cool retreat with quirky containers and ornaments surrounding a comfortable seating area next to a fishpond. The Joiner and Rowell garden on Seventh, clustered at the base of a patriarch oak, features massed impatiens, with hostas and a planted container of tropicals as focal points for the array.
At a debriefing on Monday morning, organizers of the 2014 tour said they were pleased with the event but glad that another year of planning had come to a successful end.
About $30,000 was raised this year. Funds are used to maintain historic Trinity Episcopal Church.