Often times, the sweeping Spanish moss obscures the architectural gems that dot the streets around the Golden Isles. Naturally, these private residences are designed to be just that — private. But soon there will be a rare opportunity to peek behind those doors to discover some truly exquisite designs.
The annual Christ Church Tour of Homes will return for its 66th year with 11 tour stops on St. Simons and Sea islands. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 16 participants can make their way to selected locations on the tour, with buses providing transportation from Gascoigne Bluff to the private island. Various groups of attendees will be assigned to tour the locations at different times, allowing groups to have space to take their time pursuing the homes.
This year’s co-chairs Susie Henning and Charlotte Graham are excited by the selections and are looking forward to hosting the event. They will be joined by more than 400 volunteers to ensure the show goes off without a hitch.
“It is a privilege to be a part of the Tour of Homes, whose mission is to reach out in tangible ways to the needs of the community. Tour funds are devoted to organizations benefitting women and children in need,” Henning said.
There is certainly a lot to take in on the tour. Here’s just a small taste of what is in store at the stops:
Tour Stop 1: Located on the fourth hole of Sea Island’s Retreat Golf Course, this traditional home offers a wealth of interesting finds. Artifacts and art work mingle with one-of-a-kind furnishings to create a style that is entirely unique.
Tour Stop 2: This St. Simons Island home is a visual buffet, both inside and out. The design features a custom courtyard complete with citrus trees and a raised pool. Inside, the villa mixes modern and timeless styles, blending one effortlessly into the other. There’s even a special upstairs space, creatively styled for children.
Tour Stop 3: Playful meets chic in this classic ranch style home. Outside a glossy white brick wall highlights a Belgian fence supporting Confederate jasmine climbing the chimney. Inside, oversized sofas, bright colors and angular lines offer a cozy and relaxed vibe.
Tour Stop 4: St. Ingatius Chapel, 2906 Demere Road, St. Simons Island, is a special local landmark. Constructed in 1898, the chapel was built with heart pine and oak that’s been lovingly aged by time. Features include an impressive stained glass window made by the Willet Co. in Philadelphia and a bell from a World War II Liberty Ship.
Tour Stop 5: Gascoigne Bluff, 1195 Arthur J. Moore Dr., St. Simons Island, offers a historic stop for tour-goers. The 24 acres of green space was originally a Native American settlement and later one of the first island locations for the docking of ships. There are two tabby slave cabins from the plantation days, currently maintained by the local Cassina Garden Club. The site was also used to harvest lumber. Timbers milled at Gascoigne were used in the construction of the battleship, the U.S.S. Constitution, known as “Old Ironsides” and the Brooklyn Bridge. Buses will also be available here to shuttle attendees to Sea Island.
Tour Stop 6: After boarding the buses, participants will head over to Sea Island, stopping in at this Mediterranean-inspired home. Features include dark wood, file flooring, stone fireplaces and balconies. There are a variety of antiques, impressive fabrics, as well as original art work from the Golden Isles and beyond.
Tour Stop 7: This is a charming 1950s-era cottage on Sea Island featuring a bright open design. Dark flooring balances crisp white walls which are highlighted by splashes of color throughout. Interesting light fixtures are a staple of this home and include a playful silver ball fixture over the dining room table.
Tour Stop 8: Designed by a local architect, this Sea Island home features design points one would expect from a seaside hideaway — wooden beams, stone floors and white-washed walls. One of the home’s owners is an interior designer from New York, which is evident in the thoughtful and chic style. It is also filled with unique artwork and unique appointments including an African-themed study.
Tour Stop 9: This open floor design underwent an extensive renovation process which produced an up-to-date, tech savvy home that is balanced by classic elements of the past. The all white 1970s styled kitchen is a favorite feature, which also boasts multiple framed televisions that showcase gallery-quality art when not being viewed.
Tour Stop 10: Musgrove Retreat and Conference Center, located at 5720 Frederica Road, St. Simons Island, is a timeless piece of St. Simons Island history. Constructed in 1938 by Nancy Reynolds Bagley, heiress to the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune, the estate was named after Mary Musgrove, a cultural liaison between Georgia colonists and the Native American peoples who first inhabited the area. In addition to the main house, the property boasts nearly 300 acres of preserved natural splendor.
Tour Stop 11: Christ Church Parish Hall and Christ Church cemetery, 6329 Frederica Road, St. Simons Island, is the final stop on the tour. The picturesque church has its beginnings in 1736, when Gen. James Oglethorpe first came to the Georgia coast. The Rev. Charles Wesley was one of the clergymen brought to the area from England to minister to the nearby Fort Frederica. The first building was erected in on the property in 1820 with the permanent structure being build in 1886. The cemetery and gardens can also be explored by tour-goers.