Monticello Home and Heritage Tour Coming March 14

Monticello will be holding their Home & Heritage Tour, Saturday, March 14, starting at 10 a.m. and lasting until 4:30 p.m. The tour is sponsored by the Jefferson County Historical Association and the Jefferson County Tourist Development Council and will take you t0 over 20 stately homes, public buildings and churches that will be featured on the tour. This event will take you back to the “Old South,” and give you a glimpse of the town’s historical architecture, sprawling trees and beautifully landscaped gardens.

If you’ve ever wondered what these grand buildings hold, the tour is a must see. On the tour you will be invited to go inside the homes, where the owners will be happy to share their homes with you for the day. Some owners may show off their china, others might have a collection of antiques, another might have just finished a renovation and will be proud to answers any questions you may have.

The tour will begin at the Jefferson County Historical Association Headquarters, located at the Wirick-Simmons House, on the corner of Jefferson and Pearl streets downtown, across from the Post Office.

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The Wirick-Simmons House is a 1831 era Greek Revival-Style home that was purchased by the association in 1964 and restored during the remaining years of the 1960’s. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Other homes on the tour will include the McDonald-Guy House, a Craftsman style home built in 1922, with a recent and extensive interior renovation completed by the home’s new owners. The house is located at 480 W. Washington St.

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Another home located on W. Washington is the Sattler-Boyd House, located at 735 W. Washington St. This Spanish-sytle home was built in 1929, during the era this architectural style was made popular in Florida. The home is currently owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hines Boyd.

The Girardeau-Love House, located at 885 S. Waukeenah St., was built by William M. Girardeau in 1882. The house is a Classic-Revival style and features a traditional Southern floor plan. New owners, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Love, have kept the home’s interior simple, but personalized the space with their talents of photography and interior design.

The Fife-Gwynn House was built around 1858 and was constructed of cypress. This Creole-Style Cottage still retains its original pine floors and five fire places.  Noannie Gwynn, a local writer, has owned the home, located at 550 E. Washington St., for the past 19 years.

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The Budd-Carswell House, located at 555 E. Washington St., is an Antebellum house more characteristic of New England than that of the deep South. The home, with its fine detailed woodwork, has been lovingly restored over the years by current homeowners, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Carswell. On the tour, you will be able to witness the home’s last renovation in progress, the kitchen, along with the home’s beautiful gardens filled with camellias and azaleas that are nestled among the property’s massive Live Oak trees.

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The Dilworth-Barnhill House, presently owned by John and Kim Barnhill, was built in 1852 by William Scott Dilworth then sold to its second owners shortly after the Civil War. The house, located at 345 E. Washington St., is being painstakingly restored by the Barnhills, which includes the traditional detached kitchen, popular during the era the home was built.

The Simpson-Terzis House is an eclectic bungalow, nestled among camellias and built in 1928 for then Mayor of Monticello Richard Simpson. He and wife Dorothy sold the home where the gardens were expanded. Current owner, Lee Terzis, has maintained the cottage and garden while introducing a fresh, modern feel to the home’s interior with a mix of antiques and contemporary furnishings. The home is located at 1155 E. Pearl St.

The Bassett-Hanway House, located at 1200 E. Pearl St., is of Southern French Colonial-Style architecture. The home, built in 1910, was originally owned by Wilmer and Ruby Bassett, owners of Bassett Dairy. Current Owner Francie Hanway is an avid antique collector and has furnished the home with many of her family antiques.

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The Simkins-Kirkpatick House, was built around 1854 and after being purchased by Bill Kirkpatrick,  has been transformed with renovations and interior furnishings that will delight and impress all who enter. The home is located at 340 E. Washington St.

On the tour you will be able to also visit a fine collection of Monticello’s Bed and Breakfasts. The Daffodale House, located at 620 W. Washington St., is a true Victorian Queen Ann home. The house, built in 1897, is surrounded by giant oak trees and renowned old growth camellia flowers, lovingly tended to by owners Mr. and Mrs. Ebberbach, who will delight you with tales of what being an innkeeper is all about.

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The Avera-Clarke House, built in 1890 and located at 580 W. Washington St., is a Bed and Breakfast owned by Troy and Gretchen Avera. The couple will welcome you into their home, gladly showing you their beautiful old home that is decorated with collections they have gathered from their travels around the world.

The John Denham House, located at 555 W. Palmer Mill Road, is a beautifully restored mansion with eight fireplaces, large bedrooms and a cupola to view the town. The house was built in 1888 and listed on the Historical Register. The owner and innkeeper, Pat Inmon, will be delighted to show you through the house and entertain you with ghost stories rumored about the house.

The Cottage, located at 295 W. Palmer Mill Road, is a cute bungalow operated by John Michel and Martha Cravanzola. With the home’s peaceful surroundings and manicured grounds, it is the perfect setting for their restaurant which is operated in the house, with reservations only fine dining.

Historic Churches are noted for their beautiful architecture and on the tour you will be able to see three of Monticello’s lovely historic churches. The First United Methodist Church, located at 325 W. Walnut St., was built in 1844, after the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Monticello purchased the land for $75. The original church was rebuilt and completed in 1891 and bears beautiful stained glass imported from England.

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The Christ Episcopal Church, located at 425 N. Jefferson St., was designed by J.W. Ferguson in 1885. Ferguson was reportedly the architect for the famed New Orleans Exposition building. The stained glass windows on the south and north side of the church provide a beautiful glow for all who enter.

The First Presbyterian Church, located at 290 E. Dogwood St., was originally built in 1841 from local native woods and bricks hauled by ox cart from South Carolina. The building was destroyed by fire in 1865, but rebuilt in 1867 using the original brick. The church is one of the few remaining mid-19 century Greek Revival buildings in Florida. The interior features boast intricate handmade woodwork with lovely pilasters, large dentils on the ceiling molding, a dado and deep window facings. Each pew was made from one single 17-foot tree and pegged to fit into the floor. The stained glass window behind the pulpit was given by Dr. Palmer in memory of his son and daughter.

Public buildings of interest on the tour offers insight to the town’s history and appreciation for craftsmanship of a bygone era. The Monticello-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce at 420 W. Washington St., was originally the St. Margaret’s Catholic Church built in 1915. The most interesting feature of the building’s interior design is the roof, built by craftsmen to resemble the inside of a ship’s hull.

The Olde Jail Building, located at 380 W. Dogwood St., was built in 1909 and offers a unique insight of the sheriff and his family living in the downstairs, while prisoners were held on the floor above them. Restoration of this facility was funded by historical preservation grants from the state.

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The Monticello Opera House at 185 W. Washington St., at the courthouse circle, was built in 1890 by John H. Perkins, a local businessman who erected the building to offer unparalleled acoustics and the largest stage in the region, drawing many to the famed Opera House during that time. The restoration of the facility is ongoing and again today provides outstanding visual and performing arts opportunities for residents of South Georgia and North Florida.

Jefferson Arts, Inc. is a non-profit organization, housed in a 1935 brick building, located at 575 W. Washington St., which was formerly used for agricultural and shop classes at the high school. This group of local artists promote art appreciation and provide a venue for displaying work of local artists and craftspeople. An art exhibit will be featured on this stop during the tour.

This Home & Heritage Tour is given for the benefit of the Jefferson County Historical Association, formed in 1962 and consisting of a group of volunteers who are dedicated to preserving and maintaining the history of Jefferson County. The association sponsors projects and events highlighting the rich heritage of Jefferson County.

Advance ticket sales for the tour can be made at the Monticello Opera House or Chamber of Commerce. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event at the Wirick-Simmons House. Adult tickets are $25/Group rates and student tickets are $15. For more information on the tour, call (850) 997-5007 or (850) 997-2661.

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