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Home is Where the Heart is: The NC Azalea Festival’s Historic Home Tour showcases beautiful craftsmanship

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Mary Margaret Konz knows how to wait for what she wants at a price she can afford. Drawn to the Brickhouse Cottage at 503 S. Front Street for years, she kept watching the selling price on the market. When foreclosure was eminent, she made a reasonable offer. And it was accepted.

front street

BRICKHOUSE COTTAGE: Mary Margaret Konz’s 503 S. Front Street home is one of many on the Azale Fest Historic Home Tour, sponsored by the Historic Wilmington Foundation. Courtesy photo

Konz’s one-story, hip-roof cottage, with full-width front porch, is one of the many styles of buildings presented by the Historic Home Tour. Sponsored by the Historic Wilmington Foundation, the tour helps promote the historic resources of Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear region. Since 1966, the foundation has saved more than 200 historic properties from being destroyed and has helped restore them to shine yet again.

Konz’s new digs weren’t always prepped for the Historic Home Tour. Upon her purchase, there were five holes in the roof of the abandoned house, so her first move was to bleach everything she could get her hands on. Konz had a Hydro-Stop sustainable roofing system (similar to fiberglass) installed under the pinched metal roof.

The beautiful hardwood floors were re-sanded throughout the small yet substantial cottage. All the walls were painted bone white, and crown molding was added for softness. After renovating the master bathroom vanity and walk-in shower with carrera marble, she placed an apartment-size washer/drier appliance in the adjoining walk-in closet for the ultimate in laundry efficiency. She opened the kitchen with a vaulted, yellow-pine ceiling and low black cabinetry by IKEA (a fifth of the box stores’ prices)

Now, when a visitor walks through the cottage from front to back, there are touches of cosmopolitan splendor on every wall and in every corner. The front parlor shows an easel with Konz’s large canvas reproduction of Monet’s “Woman with a Parasol.” A Queen Anne ivory love seat is a frugal find from The Eclectic, Etc. consignment shop. One of the five fireplaces contains a Convert-to-Gel Log Set in oak, which warms the room with a can of Real Flame (good for two and a half hours).

To the right of the parlor, is a guest bedroom which holds a magnificent catty-cornered brown and ivory poster bed. The letters on the headboard read: “Paris, 1898.” Memorabilia from Konz’s trip to Paris sprinkle the room, including a painting of the Eiffel Tower.

The sitting room mantel holds another large oil reproduction painted by Konz. This one is reminiscent of Degas’ dancer paintings, and shows five ballerinas all dressed in pink tutus. An elegant chaise lounge stretches out as if begging to be sat upon, and is printed a la francaise (“I seem to gravitate to all things French!”).

The Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary Catholic Church and nine selected homes feature a variety of architecture and located within four of the eight National Register Districts in Wilmington. The ribbon-cutting will take place this Saturday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m., at the MacRae-Willard House (520 Orange St.), home of Dr. Landon and Connie Anderson. Free ice cream from Dairy Queen will be served at the Neoclassical Revival-style home.

As participants make the tour, they will note the grand example of Spanish Baroque architecture of St. Mary’s; the Charleston-inspired Allen-Woodward House (George and Nancy Bolts); the craftsman style bungalow of the Swinson-Dowe House (Michael O’Connell III); the Greek-Revival cottage of the William Cooke House (Suzanne and Herman E. Smith); the Craftsman-style, three bays wide of the Alvy R. Hardwick House (Pat and Elaine Hogan); the two-story Italianate wood frame Hovis House (Larry and Alice Hovis); the foursquare styled Martin L. Stover House (Gay Adair); and the English Cotswald Cottage style of the James D. Nutt House (Lale and Paul Lewis).

Folks can purchase tickets ($25) by calling (910) 794-4650. Tickets go up to $30 the day of the event.


North Carolina Azalea Festival Historic Home Tour

Sat., April 11, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun., April 12, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets: $25-$30

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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