Spring Tour of Homes a Beaufort tradition

Spring Tour of Homes a Beaufort traditionIT WOULDN’T BE SPRING IN BEAUFORT WITHOUT St. Helena Episcopal Church’s annual Spring Tour of Homes. Known as a showcase of the historic city’s antebellum homes, the tour started in 1956 to help raise funds for a new parish house.

Fifty-three years later, the tour has become a community tradition and often attracts visitors from all over North America, said Reneé Killian-Dawson, tour chairwoman.

“We are blessed to have so many historic homes in the area — many surviving before the war of the states,” said Killian-Dawson, an interior designer and a historian. “We have a lot of civic pride. People from all over the place love these homes.”

Chairing a historic home tour couldn’t be more appropriate for Killian-Dawson. Her background in restoring English countryside historic homes helped inspire her Beaufort design business, English Interiors.

Four years ago, she moved from an 18th-century stone house in the Herefordshire countryside with views of hills, horses and sheep to a historic home with massive porches and views of the intracoastal waterway, according to her Web site.

“I’ve been working in and around beautiful houses for years,” Killian-Dawson said. “Beaufort homes are made mostly of wood — this is true for most of America. It takes very special, consistent care to maintain the structural integrity.”

The Spring Tour of Homes will o ffer an inside look at a range of architectural styles with “décor details expressed very broad and very generous,” she said.

However, event organizers aren’t releasing which houses will be featured on the Spring Tour of Homes in order to protect the home owners’ privacy and, also, to keep the tour a surprise for ticket holders. Killian-Dawson said there will be some homes on the tour that haven’t been featured before. She recommends wearing comfortable shoes and a light jacket in case of a drizzle. However, there will be a trolley to take people from house to house. Cameras are welcome, but only for the outside of the homes.

“Come with a bit of fun and discovery,” she said. “That’s what I love the most about the tour. You can come a thousand times and see something new every time. Come with the delight of a child, which is more important than an umbrella.”

St. Helena Episcopal Church’s Spring Tour of Homes

Purchase tickets online at StHelenas1712.org or call (843) 524-0363. Tickets are limited and non-refundable. Tickets and tour maps may only be picked up the day of the tour. Locations and times for ticket pick-up will be noted on a confi rmation card.

Candlelight Walking Tour
Tour of homes in downtown Beaufort with reception and entertainment from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 27. Cost: $40

Portrait of a Sea Island Tour
From 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 28. Driving tour of plantation homes and gardens on St. Helena Island; includes a Lowcountry lunch and entertainment. Cost: $60

Hallelujah Singers
7 p.m. March 28. St. Helena Episcopal Church. Cost: $30

Boat Tour
Limited to 49 passengers. Leaves Fripp Island at 1 p.m. March 29. Cost: $35