Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Welcoming Homes for the Holiday Tour; Magnolia Garden Club Tour Will Showcase City's Historic Buildings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Welcoming Homes for the Holiday Tour; Magnolia Garden Club Tour Will Showcase City's Historic Buildings

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK - The newest Christmas tour of homes will again feature some of the area's oldest houses.

The Magnolia Garden Club's Christmas tour of homes 1-6 p.m. Saturday showcases homes dating back to the 1800s and one of Brunswick's landmark churches.

The first stop is First United Methodist Church's new reception center at the corner of Monck and Norwich streets. The original church was built in 1861 on two lots donated by Maj. Urbanus Dart, but it was torn down in 1904 to make way for the current structure.

Its Gothic architecture is rare for southern states.

The congregation formed in 1838 and met in the wood frame Glynn Academy building that is being restored on Norwich Street.

Another stop is a Queen Anne house with 18 Corinthian columns that lumber magnet L.T. McKinnon built in 1902. JoAlice Miller Westbrook bought the house eight years ago and it is now a bed and breakfast.

"We've been working on it two weeks, and we're still not finished,'' Westbrook said of decorating.

Asked why she decided to do all the work required for the tour, Westbrook said it was partly to fulfill a promise she made in prayer as she was trying to buy the house.

"I said, 'If you'll let me get this house, I'll share it with the community,''' Westbrook said.

Although she didn't live in it at the time, the McKinnon House was part of Westbrook's childhood.

"I grew up four houses down. My grandmother rode me by this house in a baby carriage. I learned to ride a bike on this street, learned to skate on the sidewalk. There were a lot of skinned knees,'' she said.

The 13-room Du Bignon House is one of the oldest houses and best-known families on Union Street, a divided street lined with ancient live oaks and restored houses. The Du Bignon family was among the millionaires who owned Jekyll Island for four generations. …

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