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House Hunters

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A home on Historic Charleston Foundation's 2012 tour; visitors view a room. Images courtesy of Historic Charleston Foundation

March 13, 2013

House Hunters
Just in time for home tour season, a downtown dweller shares notes on the etiquette of roaming through someone else's abode

Written by Melissa Bigner

Before moving to Charleston, I’d never lived in a town where hosts followed the customary "May I take your coat?" and "Can I offer you a drink?" with "Would you like a tour of the house?" All this time, I, an avid design hound and overall snooper, had to make do with the surreptitious tours I scored while "getting lost" on the way to the loo. Or the kitchen. Or the back patio.

So for the last decade, the out-in-the-open invites have been a boon to my curiosity. It seems Charlestonians are as proud of their homes as they are of their history, and since the two are so often tied together, we feel it's our duty to share heirloom floor plans with friends, family, and whomever shows even the most meager passing interest.

This "come-on-in" approach is no doubt part of what has made us the most hospitable city in the country, and the most polite to boot. But, even though we're inviting nearly everybody and their brother up onto the porch, there's an unspoken contract when embarking on a house tour, be it one that your neighbor is offering or one that the preservation groups host. To learn the rules, click here.

Can’t Miss Home Tours:

Festival of Houses & Gardens
March 21-April 20
Historic Charleston Foundation's month-long fundraising event features morning and evening tours through homes in 11 downtown neighborhoods. For more information, click here.

Symphony Designer Showhouse
March 21-April 21
Tour a repurpsed cotton warehouse decorated by area interior designers on one of Charleston's last remaining cobblestone streets. Proceeds benefit Charleston Symphony Orchestra. For more information, click here.

Annual House & Garden Tours
April 5 & 6
Stroll through six of the Holy City's finest homes and gardens on this self-guided tour benefitting the Garden Club of Charleston fund, which helps maintain the gardens at Heyward-Washington House, Joseph Manigault House, The Charleston Museum courtyard, the MUSC Healing Garden, and the Confederate Home. For more information, click here.