Located on the north end of Amelia Island is Old Town, a community within itself on a bluff overlooking the Amelia River. Established in 1811, it is the last city platted by the Spanish in the New World. On Saturday April 8, the Amelia Island Museum of History and the Old Town Dinghy Club will open eight homes and cottages for a tour. Docents will be on site to share information about each home.
Familiar to many is the Pippi Longstocking house, formerly known as the Captain Downes house. One of Old Town’s six captains’ houses, it is distinctive with its high tower and gabled dormers. It is a favorite of people visiting Amelia Island who remember the 1988 movie “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.” The movie was filmed on the island and featured the now iconic house.
Each house has something special to offer. Two of the homes have been awarded Preservation Awards by the City of Fernandina Beach. In April, gardens will be in bloom. One home has Florida’s Champion Sugarberry tree in the yard! The tree has been officially named the “Florida Champion” for its species by the Florida Forest Service.
The tree can be seen at the featured home of Chris and Amy Hastings. Chris is an arborist and has been caring for the historic tree since purchasing the home. “It is particularly fun for an arborist to find a Champion Tree, but to have one at your house is a dream come true!”
Jennifer Harrison, past president and board member of the Amelia Island Museum of History, has coordinated the tour. The Harrisons have built two homes in Old Town. One home was built in 2001, and it was the first to be built in Old Town for several decades. The newer home was built in 2021. Both homes are featured in this year’s tour.
Another is the home of well-known artist Christine Shockley. Her paintings have been purchased by several famous singers, including Randy Travis, Ashley Judd, and the Dixie Chicks. Her paintings will be on display and available for sale.
Three of the homes have expansive views across the Plaza to the Amelia River and Georgia. Each home reflects the character of its owners. One home has an eclectic collection of interesting “objets d’art” and spills out into a playful and extensive garden. Another is a romantic cottage with a welcoming front porch.
The homes and cottages are within walking distance of each other and allow for an interesting introduction to Old Town and the varied and interesting homes that have been built there.
To reach Old Town, travel north on N. 14th Street about 1.4 miles from Atlantic Avenue, then turn left just past Bosque Bello cemetery into Old Town.