Fairhope Opens Its Doors

Architecture aficionados and admiring onlookers are preparing for one of the Eastern Shore’s most anticipated springtime outings: the Fairhope Historic Homes Tour.

The event began in the late 1990s when a group of friends decided that people would enjoy peeking into the past while visiting some of the established homes in the community. “This was a way to show that older homes can be lovingly updated to work for today’s families. You don’t have to tear down old homes and build new, ” says 2011 chair Mikeal Donald.

Last year’s tour included Sophie and Robert Audette’s 1940s-era home. “We loved this house and wanted to preserve it the minute we saw it, ” says Sophie, above. “But it was very tiny and seriously in need of updates. We added a master suite, office, and laundry room, but we worked hard to keep the original look, save the beautiful old trees, and use as much of the old material as possible. I think this home shows that you really can keep historic charm and still have a house that is very livable for today.”

As in the past 13 years, homes of all sizes that have been lovingly preserved and updated will be featured on the 2011 tour. Proceeds will be donated to various projects of the City of Fairhope’s Historic Preservation Committee.

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“We get a lot of repeat visitors, including many from out of town, ” Donald says. “It’s a nice ritual and a wonderful time to spend a day in Fairhope.”


May 1, Fairhope Historic Homes Tour
Downtown Fairhope
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 day of event. Available at Page and Palette, 32 S. Section St. 928-5295; Green Gates Market, 801 N. Section St. 928-2525.


The 13th annual Historic Homes Tour in Fairhope will lead visitors through some of the town’s finest living spaces. Attendees can take notes on how older houses can be updated to meet contemporary needs. All proceeds benefit the City of Fairhope’s Historic Preservation Committee. In the past, funds have been designated for community education on historic preservation, markers for historic districts within the city, and assisting the city with restoration of the old City Hall building, which now houses the Fairhope Museum of History.


206 Pier Ave.

Home of Ty and Effie Thompson
It started out as a one bedroom one bath in 1949 or 1950. This home has managed to keep its quaint cottage charm through two renovations.

354 S. Summit St.

Home of Fred and Melissa Patti
Construction on this home, the project of a Chicago architect, began in 1939 and continued over a period of 10 years. It is known by Fairhopians as the “wrought iron house.” It features extensive ironwork, including pieces from New Orleans.

Moss Oak Court

Home of Rex and Camille Turner
Each year the tour presents a lagniappe home, which may not be older than 50 years old but is nevertheless a treat to see. The lagniappe home this year is filled with neat antiques and some old Fairhope history as well. Rex is an accomplished local artist whose work can be seen throughout the home.

Mobile Historic Homes Tour
March 18 – 19, 2011 tour

Each year, families welcome curious visitors inside their homes. Grand houses along Government Street, such as the Dean and McElhaney residences, will be the focus in 2011. A number of churches in the area will be included as well. 432-6161. historicmobile.org

D. Fran Morley

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