The 2016 Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens
By Mary Gallagher with photojournalist Will Davis
We are lucky enough to visit the charming town of Beaufort, S.C. frequently as it’s a short drive from home and a chance to experience a more untouched version of the historic south.
The city has a rich history that dates back centuries with ties to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Beaufort is made up of Port Royal Island and its surrounding area within the Low Country. Let’s love it but don’t tell anyone or soon hordes of tourists will descend and spoil the charm!
This area is home to one of the most diverse communities because of its historic population of Gullahs, a culture known for preserving its African linguistic and cultural heritage more than any other African-American community within the United States. If you have time drive over to the Penn Center on for an interesting history tour of this community.
Beaufort is steeped in history dating back to the 1700s, from old battlefields to churches and historic homes.
Another plus is the ability to stay in so many historic properties that have been utilized as Inns and B&Bs.
On our last trip we stayed at the spectacular Anchorage 1770, an inn also known as the William Elliott House, built in 1776 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
It is included in the Beaufort Historic District, which is a National Historic Landmark District. Plus the Bay Street location, overlooking the harbor, allows you to walk to shops and many fine restaurants.
In 2014 the house was purchased by Frank and Amy Lesesne who have lovingly created a five-star inn serving spectacular breakfasts, Happy Hour on the porch overlooking the water and providing guest rooms of historical significance with a contemporary flair and modern convenience. If that sounds like an endorsement it is as we’d go back anytime!
Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens
But no matter where you stay or if it’s just a day trip, this fall, the Historic Beaufort Foundation presents its annual Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens, giving attendees an exclusive opportunity to tour privately owned homes, plantations and gardens throughout the historic town. The festival will focus on the distinct historic architecture of featured sites and will take place Friday, Oct. 28 through Sunday, Oct. 30.
“The Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens is an excellent way for locals and visitors to experience the history and beauty of the architecture that these homes, gardens, and plantations have to offer,” Robb Wells, tourism division vice president for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, said. “We enjoy the opportunity to offer an exclusive look into these beautiful homes each year while showcasing best of Beaufort as well.”
We’ve done guided walking, harbor and carriage ride tours as well as independent exploration, but never yet had the opportunity to see inside the private homes and gardens here in South Carolina’s second oldest city.
2016 Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens
The festival offers three tours, including a Walking Tour, the Ramble Around Beaufort tour, and the Kitchens & Cuisine Tour.
The Walking Tour is available on Friday, Oct. 28, with three separate sessions beginning from 1 to 4 p.m., 2 to 5 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. All properties close at 6 p.m. The tour features several houses located in the city’s National Historic Landmark District and represents the variety of architectural styles built in the city over the past 200 years. Among them is the Miles Brewton Sams House, Frederick Fraser House, Bythewood House (just to add confusion there is also a Blythwood House) and the Thomas Hazel House. The Verdier House, Historic Beaufort Foundation’s house museum, will also host an exhibit of photographs of Lowcountry rice fields titled, “Remnants of the Rice Culture: Agricultural History as Art.”
The Ramble Around Beaufort Tour is available on Saturday, Oct. 29, beginning at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. All properties close at 4 p.m. The tour offers a selection of houses including B.B. Sams House, Gustave Sanders House, Elliott House and the Edward Barnwell House. The garden of the Henry Farmer House is one of the highlights of this tour, retaining the design created in the 1830s that are meticulously cared for by its owners.
The Kitchens & Cuisine Tour takes place on Sunday, Oct. 30 with two sessions including 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Local chefs will create regional specialties inside of the private homes. The two-hour tour takes place on Cat Island, Distant Island and Lady’s Island and is sure to be a delightful way to top off the weekend.
Tickets are limited and are now available for purchase online or by phone for $50 each; advance ticket purchase is recommended. To order tickets, call 843-379-3331, visit www.historicbeaufort.org or purchase by mail order at P.O. Box 11, Beaufort, S.C. 29901. All sales are final. Tours will proceed rain or shine.
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