Azalea Fest home tour offers 250 years of architecture

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The early 1900s Captain John W. Harper house will open its doors to visitors during this year's Azalea Fest home tour. Courtesy photo.
The early 1900s Captain John W. Harper house will open its doors to visitors during this year’s Azalea Fest home tour. Courtesy photo.

One of the city’s longest standing residences and the “crown jewel of downtown” are among the stops on this year’s Azalea Festival Home Tour.

Tickets are on sale now for the upcoming tour, slated for April 9 and 10, that features nine homes and one church spanning more than two centuries of architectural history and design styles. The tour is a major fundraiser for the Historic Wilmington Foundation (HWF), a local nonprofit that has helped preserve more than 100 historic properties since 1966.

The 1790s Dubois-Boatwright house – the second oldest in Wilmington – is a highlight for 2016. The home at 14 S. Third St. is currently undergoing restoration, giving visitors a chance to see preservation progress in action.

The newer – but equally impressive – nearby Captain John W. Harper House is another tour attraction. Built in 1903, it was oft referred to by Port City locals as the “crown jewel” of the downtown skyline. The sprawling, 5,300-square-foot, three-story house has undergone extensive renovations within the last decade to merge Victorian charm with modern conveniences that towers over terraced gardens brightened by heritage magnolias.

It’s the site of a kick-off ceremony at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and a yet-to-be-named county commissioner will join with Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Belles, to officially open the tour at Harper house, 311 Front St.

Tours will then run throughout the day from 1 to 6 p.m. They will continue from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 10.
Tickets are $30 in advance and good for the entire weekend. They may be purchased online through HWF’s website, or at the foundation office, 2011 Market St. (inside the gates of the Wilmington National Cemetery) and the Azalea Festival Office, 5725 Oleander Drive.

The Ivy Cottage, The Transplanted Garden, Occasions, Crabby Chic, A Proper Garden, Gravity Records, Cape Fear Antiques and Wild by Nature in Southport are also selling tickets, as are all local Harris Teeter stores (at $2 off with a VIC card).

During the event, tickets will be $35 and can still be purchased at those retail spots or at the tour. They will not be available online or at the foundation.

In addition to the Dubois-Boatwright and Captain John W. Harper homes, the following sites will be featured:

  • McClammy-Powell House, 423 S. Front St.
  • Kochler House, 502 S. Front St.
  • McKay-Green House, 312 S. Third St.
  • Scarborough House, 113 N. Ninth St.
  • Fox-Holden House, 109 N. Ninth St.
  • First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1620 Chestnut St.
  • Frederick Willetts House, 219 N. 18th St.
  • Eugene Philyaw House, 1802 Market St.

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