Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2009-10 Winter Tana Tour, Swift-Cole Tidewater Mansion, Decked Out for the Holidays

Man and I happened upon the Swift-Cole Tidewater Mansion when we were out discovering Bon Secour.  It was closed at that time, however, Man decided this was a must-see before we leave the area, then discovered they would have the home decorated for the holidays.  We went out there yesterday afternoon, we so enjoyed the decorations and the history and the antiques!  The home is located at 17424 Swift Coles Lane, Bon Secour, Alabama.  A bit of the history of the home can be read at this Rootsweb page, and more information can be found at the Baldwin County Department of Archives and History page (which sadly did not fully load for me). There is a very nice blog here, with a slide show, with interior photos (since they limited our photos, this is a good site to visit).

Photos show you the beauty.

Built around 1882 as a four room home for the
Charles A. Swift family, by the early 1900's the home grew to 16 rooms.

Entrance.  The garland is made from Magnolia tree leaves, which the staff used all around the house, stunning!  You can see some lights through the door, they decorated a large tree at the end of the entry way (two doors opposing, believe this is called a shot gun arrangement, used widely in the south for air flow/breeze).

Above, Banister decorated for the holidays, magnolia leaves, AND, cotton!

Normally they do not allow interior photos, but, they did allow me to take this one interior one, as I was so enthusiastic about the cotton in this garland.  Taken without a flash, I have digitally enhanced it, below is a close up, cropped and edited differently, to show the cotton.

Above: Cotton picked from the fields, worked into the garland.

Above:  Quite a few of these surround the house.

In 1976, Nik Coles purchased the home and began a lengthy and thorough restoration. Upon his death in early 2007, the Swift-Coles Home was willed to the Baldwin County Historic Development Commission. 

Our gracious tour ladies told us about some of the furniture Nik Coles purchased to fill the home.  He lived in the home for about 30 years. They told us a goose bump story (you know, one of those that raises the goose bumps on your arms and makes ya shiver) of a ghost who protested the restoration.  By the way, the story goes that the ghost moved on to different digs, when a Swift descendant removed a family desk to his own home.

There are several statues in the yard, includng this one.

We had an enjoyable afternoon holiday tour with friends John and Donna thank to the docents at the Swift-Coles home.

* You just know I had to do  bit of genie-digging while writing this post.  Nik was Norman N. Coles, born 7 Mar 1923, died 9 Jan 2007.  Found a nice obituary for him published in the Birmingham News, Birmingham Alabama on January 12, 2007.  A few quotes from that obituary: 

"He served his country with commendation during WWII. Nick was a member of the Naval Air Corps in the European North African Theatre. Following the war he attended college at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

His love of international travel drew him to the Greek Isles in pursuit of his ancestral heritage. During these travels he developed a lifelong love and appreciation of antiques, which he collected for the remainder of his life.

Upon returning from Europe, he located in Gulf Shores, Alabama where he owned and operated, for several decades, the popular restaurant and antique shop called 'The Friendship House'."



lindalee said...

Just lovely. I have been down Natchez way in the past visiting relatives and touring through some of the fine southern homes.....but not at Christmas. I can just imagine! Last year my Mississippi relation had a cotton ball ? attached to one of my holiday presents...very cool. I am enjoying your southern tour.

Myrna said...

You would make a wonderful tour guide in one of these old homes. I did it for 5 yrs at the Bingham/Waggoner home in Independence, MO. Christmas was an active time with Christmas decorations in every room and every room had a tree. When the big open house was going on, I was usually on the 3rd floor, servant's quarters running the tea room.
Looking forward to the next installment.

Amanda (the librarian) said...

Gorgeous photos!

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

Loved your post! I love taking little mini vacations till I can take the real thing!

Anonymous said...

Nik was a friend of ours and our neighbor in the French Quarter.
He loved that house and talked about the tons of sand it took to take the beadboard back to raw wood. I hope they are still using pinecones in graduated sizes to stop splashes in heavy rain storms.
Leaving it to Baldwin County...great go, Nik.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this comment. Nik would be even more proud to know the attendance (total) of tours for 2010. The neighbors' house in New Orleans is an "oil" painting 512, and hung in upstairs bath.
We are decorating for our Holiday House on Friday and the Open House is weekend after Thanksgivng. 2010. Come join us.
Docent Shirley (upstairs)

Docent Shirl said...

still the best blogger, post, and true stuff by any blogger ever! Across fences will have a documental place in archives..
Shirley Miles docent Swift Coles' House

Carol said...

Thank you Shirley Miles!