Annual Tour of Old Village to benefit local Red Cross programs

This home at 621 Pitt St. belongs to the Hawthorne family, which lost a house to a 2007 fire in Wisconsin. The family put its home on the local tour because it appreciates the assistance the Red Cross there gave to firefighters.

Home and garden visits punctuated by friendliness and fun await those who attend the Old Village Home, Garden & Art Tour in Mount Pleasant, organizers say.

Proceeds from the April 21 event, which also will include sales by local artists, chef’s tastings and gardening advice, will support local American Red Cross programs and services.

Residents of the Old Village jointly work to extend a warm welcome to visitors, says Roberta Freer, the organization’s philanthropy manager.

“It’s a wonderful, charming place, with houses that are located along pathways and winding roads,” Freer says.

Many of the homes have been built on properties that were subdivided from plantations that were part of the Old Village, Freer says.

One indication that the event gets bigger each year is that more golf cart rides are offered to visitors by village residents each year, organizers say.

“They’re a hit,” says Mac Jenkinson, an Old Village resident and the Red Cross volunteer who organizes the golf cart rides. “We have drivers who live in the village and know the stories about its houses and people. We can make the visitors laugh and enjoy the trip a little.

“Visitors will sometimes flag us down or ask us to come back and get them,” Jenkinson says. “Some people actually will wait on a certain driver because they like him so much. Each driver tries to be the ... most entertaining.

“We appreciate so much what the Red Cross does for our whole Charleston community,” says Jenkinson. “We are glad to give back in any way that we can.”

Properties on tour

Six homes with gardens plus a garden that overlooks Charleston Harbor are on this year’s tour, Freer says. Each year, the tour focuses on different structures in the village. The oldest structure on this year’s tour was built in 1936.

One of the homes on tour is 621 Pitt St., where the garden was designed by landscape architect Glen Gardner. The goal there was to help the house blend into the old community and not announce that it was completed in 2009, he says.

The garden includes Pindo palms, crape myrtles, Japanese maples, a dogwood and redbud to help achieve that goal, Gardner says. There also is a back garden that creates a confined space or “room.”

“The idea of giving them a garden room includes having a green wall for privacy,” says Gardner.

Artist Shirley Springs Kratz, who has lived in the Old Village for 27 years, looks forward to participating in the show.

“My paintings are centered around the sea or something that has to do with the sea,” she says.

Kratz is as excited about meeting visitors and seeing what other artists are creating as she is about selling her work, she says.

“It’s usually a fun day,” Kratz says. “Everybody is in a good mood and everybody is interested in how beautiful the village is at this time of the year. It still feels like a sleepy old Southern village.”

The Charleston Academy of Music will perform in Edwards Park on Pitt Street at the beginning of the tour.

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