A new tour of homes this spring departs from the historic theme so familiar in northern Beaufort County -- this one focuses instead on the modern homes of Spring Island.
The Architects' Tour of Spring Island, by the Beaufort Historic Foundation with help from local architects, was started when the Parish Church of St. Helena decided not to bring back its Spring Tour of Homes, said foundation events coordinator Isabella Reeves.
Marcia Seymour, chairwoman for the church's tour, said the committee couldn't get enough home and plantation owners interested in showcasing their properties.
"It takes money, and it's a lot of hard work to put a good appearance on," she said.
Instead, the committee will retire the tour and search for new fundraising ideas, Seymour said.
Spring Island, a gated community of 410 houses on 3,000-plus acres, blends architecture, history and environmental preservation, Reeves said.
"The homes are definitely not cookie-cutter," she said.
The foundation is working with Frederick and Frederick, Thomas & Denzinger Architects and Allison Ramsey Architects. The tour, set for March 29, will include four homes and an artists studio.
Featured architects Jane and Michael Frederick, Joel Newman and Cooter Ramsey will be at an informal wine and hors d'oeuvre reception at 5:30 p.m. the preceding Friday at the Verdier House, 801 Bay St., to talk with ticket-holders about the homes and tour.
The architects decided to focus on Spring Island this year, Reeves said, but the foundation intends to repeat the tour annually in other Beaufort-area communities. It's fall tour from Oct. 24 to 26 will continue to showcase historic homes.
The Spring Island homes -- many of which use old or reclaimed materials -- are a way to link history to environmentally sensitive designs, Reeves said.
"Showing newer houses shows what you can do using historic materials, and how we really try to pay attention to the site," Jane Frederick added. "When people move to Beaufort they are moving here because of the great scenery, the great weather, the water."
Since it is a private community, many people have not visited Spring Island, and Frederick said she thinks it will be fun to introduce people to what is there.
Tom and Sally Simons, who moved to Spring Island in October, have a home designed by Frederick and Frederick on the tour. It is centered around a four-sided fireplace modeled on an old rice mill chimney, Jane Frederick said.
"We liked the house immediately," Tom Simons said. "It has a traditional aspect to it without being formal or stiff."
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.