Folks Flock to the Flamingo Tour

Caron Schwartz stands in front of the fireplace that fills the living room of her Roebuck home. Over the past four years of upgrades and renovations, the house is still adorned with pecky cypress paneling giving the home a grand earthy feel. 

Over 900 people flocked to Scout Hall Saturday afternoon, March 7 to get their exclusive Gulfport 15th Annual Pink Flamingo Home Tour guides and bright pink wrist bands allowing them access to 12 beautiful homes throughout the town. This marked the largest fundraising event to date for Gulfport Merchants Chamber.

From its inception 15 years ago, the Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes has become an annual ritual that takes place the first Saturday in March. Homes are chosen based on a variety of features, whether they are very small, very large, very colorful, absolutely gorgeous, original, newly renovated, or just weird – the way Gulfport was intended to be. 

The tour is organized to be walkable for the adventurous viewers, but free trolleys and vans were provided for those who appreciate a little more comfort. 

Each year the home tour spotlights a different part of town. This year, the tour boundaries were 50th Street South, Beach Boulevard, 31st Avenue South and Gulfport Boulevard. 

This year’s tour highlighted three houses in the “Roebuck Park” because of the houses built there by Alvah Roebuck of Sears, Roebuck and Co. fame. 

“Early Sears catalogs billed themselves as the ‘Cheapest Supply House on Earth’ or ‘the Book of Bargains,’ and featured a mind-boggling array of products,” according to History.com. “Among the catalog giant’s astounding range of offerings were house kits, which the company began marketing in 1908. From 1908 to 1940, Sears sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes.” 

Roebuck was no stranger to these “kit homes,” and there are 14 homes in “Roebuck Park” built during this timeframe. 

“This was originally a screened-in porch area with a wall,” explains homeowner Lynne Donahoe. “I took down the wall and built the header and the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh my god, my friends are going to come over, drinking wine, someone is going to fall off this step. I’ve got to do something about this.’” Donahoe’s favorite feature of her house is the deco wrought iron railing she commissioned for her home.

Colleen Murphy’s favorite feature in her home is the kitchen. “No matter where I set the dinner plates, everyone ends up crowded around the kitchen,” said Murphy. “I love it.” 

Each property in the 15th Annual Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes on Saturday March 7, was marked by pink flamingos and numbered signs. The tour is organized to be walkable for the viewers with free trolley service. 

During the 15th Annual Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes, local resident Dave Falwell poses all decked out in his flamingo attire. “I don’t know how they get me to wear these things,” said Falwell. “I guess I do it for a good cause.” You may also recognize Falwell as the Gecko Fest mascot.

 

Jan and Clint Bowers lean on each other as they enjoy their favorite feature in their house: their garden. The Bowers’ own the last of 14 homes built by Alvah Roebuck after he ventured from Sears, Roebuck and Co. The home was built in 1925, and the Bowers have been the proud owners for a year. 

 

 

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