The Garden Club of Long Beach Island pulled off its 53rd annual Holiday Tour of Homes on Thursday, Dec. 6. The 800 tickets were sold out within days of posting on its website.
“The house tour is an enormous amount of work at the busiest time of the year,” said President Teresa Hagan, “but our members are happy to do it, not only because it is a lot of fun, but because it provides the funds for all the wonderful projects we do throughout the year – community gardens, two youth groups, a seniors garden therapy program, 12 scholarships to local students studying environmental sciences, just to name a few.
“The club also has a special projects committee that donates to such wonderful local organizations as Alliance for a Living Ocean, Save Barnegat Bay and the Marine Mammal Stranding Center,” she added.
The Holiday Tour of Homes is a tradition for many women, their friends and daughters, a way to bond over the beautifully decorated homes and the lavish tea held at the Brant Beach Yacht Club.
This year the theme was “Oh what fun” and included five sumptuous homes on LBI, starting with Sherwood Way in North Beach, a stately seven-bedroom home on the bay with many intimate seating areas. The master bedroom includes a hammered copper fireplace door and an enormous bathroom with coffered ceilings. Views of the bay in the great room are enhanced by grass cloth accents on the molding, chair rails and wainscoting.
The Art Deco Treasure, also in North Beach, has a nautical theme that includes a large dining room table with a map of the LBI area etched in glass. Two towers flank the great room; the southern tower contains four en-suite bedrooms, and the children’s rooms are in the north tower. The master bedroom has a stone wall in the shape of a ship’s prow.
Domed ceilings, porthole windows and pillars add to the nautical feel.
Cockle Cottage on Ocean Boulevard in Brant Beach was built to replace a home wrecked by Superstorm Sandy. The neutral and blue color scheme blends with the dunes and the sea. Ocean views are seen from the den and the great room. The bathroom in the master suite has turquoise tiles from Istanbul; a floor-to-ceiling fireplace graces the great room.
Rosalind House in Beach Haven is an 1885 Victorian, one of four built for daughters and all named for a Shakespearean heroine. Vintage decorative touches abound, including concrete-finished walls imported from France for the living room. On the second level, the floors were restored to their original hard pine. Each bedroom includes a mixture of antiques and custom made furniture. The third floor is for the five children, with bead board ceilings and beams and an extra TV room for romping in.
In Holgate, a five-level home is meant for family enjoyment with an outdoor living space with a pool, hot tub, fireplace and endless decking. On the third floor is a theater with leather seating, coffered ceiling, and cherry cabinets and bar. A complete workout room with a mirrored wall overlooks the bay.
These five homeowners graciously let the Garden Club of LBI use their homes as fundraisers; of course, they get to keep the decorations through the holidays if they desire. Garden club members plan the rooms, pay for the flowers, make the arrangements and set up the tour.
In its 53-year history, ticket holders have seen an amazing array of magnificent homes decorated in a grand style – the tour missed only the year when Superstorm Sandy came ashore in October 2012.
As publicity chairwoman Gillian Rozicer said, “The tour creates the opportunity to give back to our community in the form of service and monetary grants.”
Among the projects this year were five local screenings of “The Plastic Ocean,” a uniquely disturbing film about the degradation of the seas. The club also continued its Monarch Project, building small habitats for the butterflies that migrate through the Island. It gave out 12 scholarships for students seeking degrees in horticulture and related subjects and continued to maintain the Edith Duff Gwinn garden in Barnegat Light and the gardens enhancing the Beach Haven Library. In addition, members gave gardening and decorating classes to elementary students and seniors.
The popularity of the annual Holiday Tour of Homes made all these activities possible.
— Pat Johnson