Visitors flock to Pine Apple for annual tour

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2003

If you visit the 175-year-old Wilcox County community of Pine Apple, you will discover depictions of the pineapple fruit inside and outside of numerous homes and businesses. While the town was originally named for its abundance of pinecones, it seems only fitting the friendly citizens should adopt the traditional symbol of hospitality as their very own.

That southern hospitality was on full display last weekend as the volunteer organization Pine Apple Promotions presented its fifth annual Porch and Parlor Tour on Sunday.

Eleven historic homes were featured and friendly local folks were on hand at some of the most inviting spots around—Pine Apple’s big, old-fashioned front porches.

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Mrs. Ben Becnel of Bellechase, Louisiana, appeared in a Victorian sunbonnet and long dress as she shared a brief history of the house she and her husband co-own with family members.

The Becnels purchased the circa-1870 cottage home and transformed it into &uot;a first class hunting lodge,&uot; she said.

&uot;My husband has always loved to come here to hunt…he finally decided to purchase a home here. It needed a great deal of work, but we are very pleased with the results.

It’s not a fancy house, but it’s very comfortable.

We really love it here,&uot; she noted.

Visitors to the Becnel home were equally in love with the homemade banana split ice cream served to those who stopped by to sit, swing or rock a little on the home’s inviting porch.

Next door, the Ruth family and helpful neighbors scooped equally tasty homemade vanilla ice cream for visitors, who came to admire the hilltop view from the wraparound porch of their 100-year-old Queen Anne two story. Dr. Robert Ruth and his wife, Pam, are currently restoring the lovely old home to its original style and condition.

Kitty Lamkin, dressed in an old-fashioned blue gown and derby hat, proudly showed off the 1885 home she and husband John have been renovating since 1999.

&uot;Oh, we’ve come a long way since then,&uot; noted Kitty with a smile as she took visitors through the hip-roofed central passage house, now filled with a charming array of antiques and collectibles.

A display of photos in the broad center hall took visitors through the complex renovation process, which included replacement of original walls, doors and mantles, removal of inappropriate additions, repainting the interior and exterior and repair and refinishing of the home’s original heart pine floors.

&uot;All the restoration work was done with either original materials or salvage materials from the same time period,&uot; explained Kitty Lamkin.

John Lamkin was pleased with the turnout for the day.

&uot;The weather has been good—nothing like the heat we have had some years,&uot; he said.

Visitors to the circa-1900 Queen Anne Victorian known as ‘Thirty Columns’ were able to listen to the strains of live organ music as they admired a home filled with Victorian furnishings.

Beautiful Maine-milled woodwork, seven tiled fireplaces and no less than 13 exquisite stained glass windows could be found inside its doors.

Alvin and Dot Stone have called this lovely place home for the past 40 years.

Other homes circa 1840-1939 were featured on the tour.

Additional sites featured included the Grimes Home, Greenleaves', and the family's Barn Museum, listed as a Century and Heritage Farm since 1999; the town’s 1927 library; the 1902 Bank of Pine Apple building and several historic churches and cemeteries.

Tour goers were also treated to the consummate storytelling skills of famed author Kathryn Tucker Windham.

Windham and fellow Alabamian, mystery novelist Mike Stewart, signed copies of their books and tapes for fans.

Event organizers were &uot;thrilled&uot; with the success of the event. They said they look forward to a new group of featured porches and parlors for next year’s tour.