The Local Life: Time to get out of the house and check out these historic homes

Neighbors, it's time to get off the porch. In honor of the tricentennial, the Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens sponsored by Historic Beaufort Foundation has mixed it up this year more than ever with something for everyone, including the "natives."

It's a recognized fact that newcomers to Beaufort and tourists are huge supporters of the many opportunities provided by local organizations to enjoy all that Beaufort has to offer. But sometimes old-timers become jaded or take these special events for granted.

Historic Beaufort Foundation's tour always offers a new look at old things: sites are rotated every five years so our gracious homeowners and historic resources are not worn out; new owners come in and redecorate and re-interpret their homes; gardens are redesigned; and there are always homes added to enrich the tour experience. Every fall, the tour is like receiving a new issue of your favorite home design or preservation magazine.

Two new events have been added this year to appeal to locals: a luncheon and lecture at Dataw Island by a distinguished author of books about antiques and a wine and cheese reception at Spring Island's tabby ruins, accompanied by the voices of the Fellowship Concert Choir. In addition, nine of the 20 sites are opening their doors for the first time during the three-day festival.

Britain's Judith Miller will present "Antiques for Historic Interiors," at the luncheon at noon Oct. 21 at Dataw Clubhouse. Miller is author of the international best-seller "Miller's Antiques Price Guide," and more than 80 other books. She will be signing copies of the new guide and her latest books on chairs and costume jewelry. Tickets are $55 and include the luncheon and the lecture.

There will be tours of the Old Tabby Ruins and the Spring Island History Trail from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 22 on Spring Island, accompanied by the music of the gospel choir at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., and the wine and cheese reception at the ruins. Settled in the early 18th century, Spring Island's history dates from an early trading post in 1706 to today's ecologically sensitive development of 400 homes on 3,000 acres. Tickets are $45 each.

Sunday's Kitchens & Cuisine Tour pairs some of Beaufort's best chefs with five new homes on Lady's and Coosaw islands. Houses from Factory Creek Court adjacent to the Lady's Island Marina to Newpoint and along Sam Point's Road to Coosaw will be open for touring from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The chefs will be preparing regional specialties for sampling. Tickets are $45 each.

The traditional Friday and Saturday walking tours will feature 15 homes over the two days, including three in which Historic Beaufort Foundation had a direct hand in rescuing. Friday's tour starts earlier this year. Saturday's tour takes visitors across Whale Branch to three country homes in addition to the downtown sites. Tickets for both Friday and Saturday are $45.

For details and reservations, go to the foundation's website,, or call 843-379-3331.

Maxine Lutz is an executive and board assistant of Historic Beaufort Foundation.