By Marie McAden
The popular Lowcountry fundraiser will feature six homes on Bay and North Streets in the much-celebrated Bluff neighborhood, along with two churches from the 18th and 19th centuries. To cap off the candlelight tour, guests will be invited to an outdoor reception in a private garden designed by internationally renowned landscape architect Robert E. Marvin, best known for his work on Callaway Gardens in Georgia and Beaufort’s own Waterfront Park.
“The reception is one of the highlights of the tour,” said event co-chairman Leigh Ward. “We’ll have live music and lots of food prepared by the women of the parish. Tables will be set up on the porch and in the front and side gardens.”
Guests can pick up their tickets at St. Helena’s parish hall as early as 4 p.m. and take a tour of the historic church that served as a hospital during both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. At 5:30 they can begin touring the homes, all located within an eight- to 10-block area of the church.
Among the North Street residences is a 1929 Craftsman-style house that has been renovated and expanded at least three times. The current owners added a red tin roof, master bedroom and bath, a family room, laundry room and family room, along with a large guest house behind the original one-story structure.
“It’s very deceiving from the outside,” said owner Laura Trask. “It looks like a little cottage, but inside, it really opens up. It has 10-foot ceilings and very large rooms.”
The house also features an eclectic collection of art that includes two pieces by renowned “outsider” artist Sam Doyle, five black and white images by Life magazine photographer Ed Clark and a large “cartoon” or sketch of a section of a fresco created by North Carolina artist Benjamin F. Long.
Also on the tour is a Bay Street house built in 1880 by a Civil War foot soldier from Upstate New York, who lived out his life in Beaufort and was buried in the St. Helena Church cemetery.
“We gutted the place and did a total renovation, but we retained most of the interior detail, including the original flooring, plaster walls and four fireplaces,” said owner Trudy Stevens.
The newest house on the tour, built 17 years ago by the owners of the Rhett House Inn, was featured this winter in Southern Living magazine.
“It’s a Lowcountry-style house with wide open spaces and 11 foot ceilings,” said owner Marianne Harrison. “French doors from the kitchen, master bedroom and living room open to a big screened porch.”
Tickets to the house tour and garden reception are $40. Proceeds from the event benefit a variety of local, national and international non-profit organizations. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 524-0363.