Pilgrimage in Columbus

COLUMBUS — Columbus’ spring Pilgrimage is a venerable and familiar friend, widely known for its resplendent display of antebellum architecture and living history.

The Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation is adding a fresh perspective beginning Thursday and running through Sunday with the first-ever Fall Tour of Historic Homes — and downtown loft apartments.

“For years, we’ve been asked to do this,” said Foundation director Nancy Carpenter. “We thought this was a good time to initiate a fall tour. And once we got that together, we decided there are so many wonderful downtown apartments, we’d like to include some.”

The spacious Main Street loft apartments of Doug and Katherine Phillips and Dixie Butler will be open for tours Sunday from 2-4 p.m. The apartment viewing follows three days of candlelight and day tours through some of the city’s most gracious antebellum homes. The Victorian-era T.O. Burris Home on Fifth Street South is also included.

Candlelight tours will be offered from 6-9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. On different evenings, Temple Heights, Waverley Mansion, Amzi Love, the Stephen D. Lee Home and Rosedale will welcome visitors.

Various daytime home tours (10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m.) will feature Bryn Bella, Rosewood Manor, Rosedale, White Arches and the Burris Home.

“All of these tours and activities are a benefit for the restoration of the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center,” said Carpenter.

Tour tickets are $15 at the Welcome Center. Tickets will not be sold at the homes. The Welcome Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will remain open until 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday for candlelight tour ticket sales.

“We already know we’ve got people from Germany who are coming, and we’ve had inquiries from many other areas, including Birmingham, Ala.,” Carpenter added. “We’re really excited to offer this new event.”

“We love being downtown,” said Katherine Phillips, who, with her husband, Doug, and 7-year-old daughter, Rayne, lives in the 2,100-square-foot apartment above Gifts, Etc.

The couple spent six months in late 2007 and early 2008 gutting and renovating the building dating back to the 1870s, leaving the original brick exposed for the interior walls of their living space.

“The brick is one of the reasons we bought the building,” Katherine said. “We just loved the look, and the bricks were in great condition.”

The two-bedroom apartment also features a large, rooftop deck, great for entertaining and the ambiance of living in a downtown community.

“We’ve got a perfect view of the courthouse clock tower,” Katherine noted. The couple also enjoys a sonic treat when Afternoon Tunes is held in the nearby convention center courtyard.

A little farther down the street, Dixie Butler’s third-floor apartment in the Odd Fellows Building features 14-foot pressed tin ceilings, an elevator, “wonderful windows” and a great room that measures approximately 25-feet-by-40-feet. The landmark building was originally completed in 1858 and rebuilt in 1906.

Butler will be doing double-duty during the fall tour: She is also the owner of the antebellum home Temple Heights, open Thursday and Friday evenings.

“I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent fixing up this apartment and working on it,” the longtime Pilgrimage veteran said. “I think the fall tour is a great idea. I’ve been to one in Natchez, and our town is pretty this time of year. I hope it’s something that continues and grows.”

The Fall Tour of Historic Homes concludes with a flourish Sunday as pianist Jack Brent, of Boston, performs the songs of George Gershwin at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church from 4-5 p.m.

Tickets for this event are $20 and may be purchased at the Welcome Center. Brent is donating a portion of his CD sales to the Welcome Center restoration.

Carpenter said, “There are so many activities happening on the weekend of the tour for people to enjoy. The Trash & Treasures on the Tenn-Tom yard sale at the Riverwalk is going on, and the Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival. There is plenty to do. It will be an exciting weekend.”

Jan Swoope/The Commercial Dispatch

Click video to hear audio