GULFPORT — The city celebrates its centennial this year, and visitors on Saturday will get a chance to see almost a century of its homes.
About 15 historic structures will be open to the public for the sixth annual Pink Flamingo Home Tour, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
The tour includes eight houses, two of which are Sears and Roebuck kit homes, one restaurant, two inns, the Historical Society Museum, Scout Hall and the Gulfport Industrial Arts Center.
The homes on tour were built between 1914 and the 1940s.
"The 1914 house was the oldest we could get for the tour that still exists and has been restored," Dolly Tickell, event coordinator said.
The city's oldest home, at 3102 52nd St. S, was built in 1876 and has been on a couple of the past tours, town historian Lynne Brown said.
"There's a good variety of homes on this year's tour, including a couple even I haven't been in," Brown said.
The houses are chosen by a chamber committee whose members all bring in suggestions. The list is then pared to 20 to 25 houses, Brown said.
That's when a team of people is sent out to ask the homeowners if they would be willing to be on the tour.
"As you can imagine a lot of people say no," Brown said. "It's understandable not to want 800 people walking through your living room."
The pride of the owners who agree to be on the tour is evident in the little vignettes they write for the booklet that is included in the price of a $12 tour ticket.
The owner of a Dutch colonial on 30th Avenue S wrote: "One of the few remaining kit-built Roebuck homes in what had been known as Roebuck Park, this property had been owned by Alvah Roebuck since the late 1920s. The home built in 1925 was advertised for sale in 1929 for the grand sum of $7,500."
"With painstaking attention to every detail, they transformed this formerly neglected home to a showplace. Outside, the architectural artifacts and landscaping provide only a hint at what remains to be seen inside where mission-style furniture and creative tile design set a mood of comfort and elegance," wrote the owner of a 52nd Street S home built in 1948.
The owner of a 1925 house on Beach Boulevard tells visitors about transforming his "ravaged" 700-square-foot Craftsman: "The addition, accomplished with exacting detail in absolute keeping with the original home, wraps around the right side and rear of the original structure, bringing the home to its current 2,000 square feet."
And one owner, a St. Petersburg native, tells about the treasure that was found in her Beach Boulevard home.
During renovation, a 1925 calendar was found in a wall. The calendar was distributed by the St. Petersburg Novelty Works, a company that the homeowner's grandfather had owned.
Maybe that explains why the house had such a pull on the owner who moved from Pass-a-Grille.
"It was love at first sight," she said.