The old village has a reputation for being one of the loveliest areas in Mount Pleasant, and people come from far and wide to find out for themselves if that rumor holds true. The Home, Garden & Art Tour, which takes place each spring, is a labor of love thanks to a group of local residents who take on the occasion and the cause with enthusiasm.
“We’re a strictly volunteer committee,” said Polly Player, who has lived in the Old Village for more than 30 years. “The tour began in 2008, and I’ve been helping out since 2007, when we initially got together and decided to have a tour the following year.”
The Home, Garden & Art Tour benefits the local area’s Red Cross chapter, an organization that several committee members have served.
“Because a lot of us already lived in the Old Village, it made sense,” said Player. “Neighbors encouraged each other to help out for the cause.”
Committee members work throughout a good part of the year, attending monthly meetings between autumn and spring.
“We begin planning in September,” said Joan Brown, another committee member who once served on the Red Cross board. “And we finally wrap up in May, when we evaluate how the tour went for that year.”
“Sometimes there are meetings slightly more often than once per month, depending on subcommittees,” said Player.
Each year’s tour tends to have a theme and focuses on a certain section of the Village so visitors will have no problem walking from home to home and to other sites that are often part of the show, including churches, parks and even post offices. Some homes make the tour for their spectacular gardens alone.
“The Village is such a diverse, historical place – and houses are still being built,” Player said. “The tour reflects the evolution of the area, as well as the variety of people and generations who reside in it. We highlight the neighborhood’s growth.”
“The houses are each different – they’re not in the same categories,” said Brown.
“Some were built in the 1800s; some were built that very year.”Though they are held the same weekend, committee members intentionally keep the tour separate from the city of Charleston’s home tour, although they said most people enjoy the opportunity to attend both.
“We didn’t want to overlap with the home tour in downtown Charleston when we decided to start this one – that tour has been going on much longer,” said Brown. “It made sense to have ours on the Sunday afternoon of the same spring weekend so that people can do the one in Charleston on Saturday and ours on Sunday.”
“A lot of people visit the Lowcountry just for these home tours,” Player remarked. “They’ve become very popular.”
If the idea of planning a home tour is appealing, you can volunteer to help, even if you don’t live in the Old Village.
“Everyone is always welcome, not just Old Village homeowners,” said Brown. “Our group is made up of all ages and all genders. The only real criterion is that you’re willing to work hard.”
Brown and Player agreed that the months of meeting and planning are rewarded the afternoon in April when the tour reaches its successful conclusion for the year.
“Going on the tour ourselves and seeing what we’ve worked on for so long – the beautiful houses, the gardens – is a wonderful feeling,” said Brown.
Photography by Adam Chandler