BEAUFORT’S QUAINT HISTORIC district, boasting more than 200 homes in the National Register over a century old, and several private residences that are more than 200 years old, has brought the town well-deserved attention as a tourist destination. Every year this picturesque town invites visitors and locals alike to breathe in the fragrant salty air, stroll leisurely down the tree-lined streets, and discover an array of historic homes and buildings as part of the Old Homes & Antiques Show Weekend the last weekend in June. This longtime tradition is the perfect way to see how the town has preserved its past while celebrating its present.
Fifty-six years ago the Beaufort Historical Association decided to sponsor a “station wagon antique show” to coincide with the Old Homes Tour sponsored by the Beaufort Woman’s Club. The town welcomed the event from the beginning, though some may have been skeptical. In a club scrapbook from the time it’s noted, “Pay money to go inside my neighbor’s house? It’s nothing to see. Why it’s at least 150 years old – who wants to see that?”
Plenty of people did. A success from the beginning, the tour has now morphed into an entire weekend event and a major attraction drawing visitors from all over the United States. The tradition returns June 24-25.
This year the Old Homes & Gardens Tour features 13 private homes from the historic to the newly-constructed, nine gorgeous gardens and seven artist’s studios. The restored buildings on the Beaufort Historic Site will be open both days with docents in period dress. Since the weekend has grown to encompass all sorts of events, be sure to check out the Antique Car Show on June 25, an opening concert by the Purvis Chapel Choir on June 23, and narrated tours of the Beaufort Historic District aboard a vintage English double-decker bus.
Visitors on the tour will be treated to a wide variety of décor from Victorian antiques to Scandinavian modern in homes ranging in age from 246 years old to new construction. Complementing the homes are the beautiful gardens of The Front Street Inn, Ron Hux, The Inn on Turner, Steve & Gail Bishop, Tom & Peg Midyette, The Pecan Tree Inn, Lynn & Faye Eury, The Ann Street Inn and David & Sydney Atkinson.
Kicking off this year’s tour will be the “Beaufort Cooks” Party held on the grounds of the Beaufort Historic Site on Saturday, June 4. Held in conjunction with featured artist Bunny Matthew’s art show opening reception, guests will be treated to great local food as well as Bunny’s oil paintings. This party also serves as a big thank you to the home and garden owners who work so hard to get their properties ready for the wonderful tour that showcases the best of Beaufort.
The tour weekend will commence with a concert by the Purvis Chapel Choir on Thursday, June 23 at 7pm at Purvis Chapel AME Zion Church, 215 Craven St. The historic church is in the National Heritage Registry and believed to be the oldest in the county that’s still in use. This event will honor this year’s Honorary Chair Mamré Wilson, as well as the hundreds of volunteers who help make the busy weekend so successful. The concert is free and open to the public with a reception following in the Parish Hall.
From its humble beginnings in the back of station wagons, the Antiques Show & Sale has grown to encompass more than 40 dealers from throughout the Southeast displaying furniture, silver, crystal, jewelry, linens, dolls and much more. Held at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City from June 24-26, the show offers three days of great antiquing to fit any budget. With such a wide range of dealers offering treasures and collectibles of all types, from fine china to vintage jewelry to refurbished one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, there is truly something for everyone. A Gourmet Tea Room will be open offering specialty sandwiches provided by Amos Mosquito’s Restaurant, Beaufort Grocery Company and Spouter Inn, as well as beverages, and a variety of homemade desserts.
Since 1960, this annual weekend has not only been the largest fundraiser for the Beaufort Historical Association but has also been a time of community involvement and pride where Beaufort residents open the doors of their splendid homes to help and support the BHA’s preservation efforts and educational programs.
The event gives visitors the chance to find out more about the wonderful history of Beaufort with most wanting to return for more. Tickets for the Old Homes & Gardens Tour are $18 in advance and $20 at the door, and the Antiques Show and Sale tickets are $8 and are good for all three days. Combination tickets for both the Old Homes & Gardens Tour and Antique Show & Sale are available for $24 in advance and $25 the days of the events. Tickets for the Kickoff Party are $30 and combination tickets for all three events are $45. For more information on any of these events, contact the Beaufort Historical Association at 252-728-5225, stop by the Beaufort Historical Association Visitor’s Center at 130 Turner St., or visit www.beauforthistoricsite.org.