The Westport Island History Committee and friends are happily celebrating a successful first historic homes tour on the island. About 150 residents and visitors turned out on Sunday, September 16, to view six historic Island homes. The Community Church was also open for viewing and the Town Hall was dressed up with historic homes’ displays, flowers and table arrangements to welcome visitors with a light — and reportedly superb — luncheon. Making it all happen, took a village…
The seven-member House Tour Committee Co-Chaired by Callie Connor and Judy Hughes worked for a year and a half to stage this event. Committee members each brought talents to the table that wed history and historic preservation backgrounds with creative, accomplished Westport Island event planners. Essential to this effort were the homeowners, their families, about 62 volunteers, the History Committee, the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and the tasteful entertaining flair of Louana Frois with the help of Simply Susie’s Catering and flower arranger Posies in the Pines.
Visitors came from near and far. They came to see neighbors’ lovely homes, to see how other groups conduct historic home tours, to see an ancestor’s home, to see the fine features and workmanship of old houses — or all of the above. Effusive reviews were passed on to homeowners and volunteers throughout the tour and in succeeding days…
“Westport Island’s Home Tour was a delight! My guests were blown away with your wonderful selection of historic homes, your excellent signage, and lovely lunch included with the ticket
1. Excellent signage
2. Super Historical Map intro to understand owners and how land was passed around
3. Friendly & knowledgeable house greeters
4. Wonderful luncheon
5. Excellent parking staff, no question about where or how to park…”
“We thought the tour was a grand success and that the prep you all did was very impressive, thorough and very interesting…Bravo to all!”
I am sure I speak for the many that attended your wonderful tour. The houses were a joy to see, the owners/docents generous with their time and cordial attitude. As far as the luncheon, the tables were artfully and beautifully appointed and certainly befitting good food! Lastly, the tour revealed the real Westport.
Since Callie Connor joined the History Committee in 2015, she had a vision for conducting a Historic Homes Tour on Westport Island. Callie, a Professor Emerita of Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a devotee of historic preservation. She serves on the boards of multiple North Carolina organizations dedicated to illuminating and increasing appreciation of history as told through everyday homes and architecture. Callie and her husband, Bob, are both academics with a passion for history that carries forward into daily living. They bought the historic Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. home on Westport Island and have been working to preserve the home and solve the mystery of who painted the folk art marine murals decorating the entryway since they arrived.
The History Committee had never sponsored an historic homes tour, but was “all in” once fellow member and Island entrepreneur Judy Hughes heeded the call to join Callie in defining and developing the event. The House Tour Committee was born and enlisted veteran Island event organizers Ann Springhorn, Carole Dunbar, Tania Hayes, Ruth Nelson and Sally Howe. Callie developed the criteria for selecting the homes that would be highlighted on the tour, focusing on those with both external historic character and interior historic features that had been preserved. Multiple homes fit the bill, but the first selections each offer a very interesting vantage point on Island history.
All participants learned something new and interesting from the research done by House Tour and History Committee members, from the homeowners and from the brochure which provided thumbnail histories of each house. To all those that contributed, thank you and take a bow…
Photo credits to: Mary Coventry, Jeff Tarbox, Archie Bonyun and Crissy Swartz.