This weekend, December 8-9 is the 38th Annual Holiday Tour of Homes and Inns. Described as “an intimate visit with residents of Savannah’s Historic District”, this year’s Tour features 12 homes and is divided into an afternoon and evening Tour. The Tour is a project of the Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association.
The afternoon tour goes from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and is a walking tour. Featured homes include an Italianate Townhouse built in 1868, the Taylor Court Townhouse built in 1876, a newly renovated Federal style home built in 1854, a Greek Revival from 1852 and a Federal Style home constructed in 1853. Also included on this tour is the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home on Charlton Street.
A Victorian Tea will be held from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at 124 West Gaston Street This grand four story mansion, modeled after a French townhouse, was named Bella Flora by the current owners in honor of the magnificent garden. It reportedly was built around 1870 by Savannah resident Israel Dasher as his family home. Encompassing over 6,000 square feet, with a classic side garden and a reflecting pool, the home reflects the Greek Revival architectural style that began to influence the design of Savannah’s larger residences around 1830.
The evening tour features homes in the Victorian and Greek Revival style from the 1870’s. Two dazzling Victorians along Whitaker Street and the Hardee-Exley House, a Queen Ann style home built in 1890 are included along with a more recent example of architecture on Houston Street.
The Sunday Inn Tour will feature six of the most exciting and prestigious private inns in Savannah — five who are new to the Inn Tour this year. These properties are all different, but share one key ingredient: An Innkeeper with imagination, creativity, and total dedication to the comfort of their guests. On the Sunday Inn Tour from 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, guests will tour the Ballastone Inn, Forsyth Park Inn, Azalea Inn and Gardens, Zeigler House Inn, Presidents’ Quarters Inn, Amethyst Inn at Sarah’s Garden.
I spoke with Downtown Neighborhood Association President Hank Reed who said, “An interesting aspect of this tour is the wide variety of homes selected each year. Some large historic mansions are included, but there are also smaller properties that housed middle class families in the mid-eighteen hundreds. The owners themselves will be on hand to provide historical background or describe interesting challenges they faced during restoration. Holiday decorations also reflect a variety of religions and ethnic traditions.” This year’s tour has a variety representative of Savannah’s rich history. Architecture buffs will thoroughly enjoy!
“The Holiday Tour of Homes is an opportunity for tour guests to see different architectural design and style. Homes are decorated according to each of the homeowners personal style.” Said Susan Reese, Tour Director. 100s of volunteer docents help with the Tour each to guide guests through the homes. “We couldn’t do this event without the kindness of the homeowners, volunteer docents and committee members.” Says Reese.
Each year, a piece of holiday art is graciously created for the Holiday Tour by internationally recognized watercolor artist Wayne Chambers. Wayne has painted a historic downtown scene especially for the Holiday Tour of Homes for the past seven years. Limited edition prints of The Davenport House are on sale at Wayne’s studio, located at 308 West St. Julian Street, Studio 101 in City Market.
Reese adds, “Funds raised go toward the preservation & enhancement of the historic landmark district and to organizations focusing on children, the arts and improving the lives of others.”
The non profit Downtown Neighborhood Association protects the Landmark Historic District’s architectural heritage, encourages restoration & beautification and supports local organizations that enhance the community through aid to Savannah’s citizens, education, safety, music and children’s activities. Tour proceeds are used for projects and community organizations that support their mission.
If you plan to go:
- Historic Home Tours Saturday December 8 at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Each tour features 6 different homes. Tickets are $35 for each tour.
- The Victorian Tea is 2:30 to 5:30 pm December 8 (between the home tours) at 124 West Gaston Street Tickets are $25.
- The Holiday Tour of Inns is Sunday afternoon, December 9, from 12:30 to 4 pm. Tickets are $25.
- All online purchased Tour and Tea tickets may be picked up at Tour Headquarters located at the Savannah Visitors Center between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on December 8 and between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on December 9.