- The house is open on Tuesdays and Fridays
- $10 per adult
- Tour last about an hour
The pastures and farmland giving way to sprawling moss filled oaks let us know we’re getting close. A small school, even smaller church in the shade of the huge oaks already make us feel we’ve taken a step back in time. Just past the church a left turn onto a gravel road leads us to our destination. The massive 6000 square foot white house with its 3600 square feet of porches behind an oak lined drive is about as Gulf Coast Southern as it gets. The Swift-Coles House has been making a statement on the Bon Secour River in one form or another since the 1880s. I’m excited to only see two other cars parked outside and imagine nearly having the place to myself. After taking way too many pictures from the front drive we walk up the sidewalk and step onto the porch. A nice old lady asks us to sign in. We do and pay her $20 for our tour. She tells us the next tour will be in about 15 minutes. Lindsay and I walk the grounds admiring the house, trees, and azaleas which are just starting to bloom their pink flowers. The property isn’t nearly as big as it once was so 15 minutes is plenty of time to take in what we really want to see. We make our way back to the front and settle into the hanging swing at the end of the porch.
The porch is very tall with white railing and a blue ceiling. From the swing we can see the drive way lined with oaks and the huge azalea plants. They must not have been pruned in years but it fits perfectly with the Swift-Coles look. Lindsay and I joke if we lived closer we’d come by just to sit in this swing and relax. About this time another car pulls up and I get a feeling I won’t be having a private tour after all. It’s been more than 15 minutes and we make our way towards the front door. Before introductions, our guide tells us about the salt kettle on the front porch. The kettle was filled with sea water, boiled, and the leftover salt was used to preserve food. We’re told the Yankees destroyed all of these they found during the Civil War so the Swift-Coles crew feels fortunate to have one. Our tour mates, a much older couple, let us all know at this time that they are, in fact, Yankees themselves. It seems so many of these types of tours are filled with northerners. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy anytime anyone takes an interest in Southern history and heritage but I wish I saw more people form the south in the groups. Plus, the guides always seem a bit more enthusiastic with native southerners taking the tour.
Now we walk in, meet each other, talk about various whatevers, then officially begin the tour starting in the first floor hallway. We learn how and why a dogtrot house was eventually transformed into the beautiful home we see today. The house itself focuses around the Swift family. The contents belonged to the last owner, a Mr Coles. Mr. Coles was a single man whom traveled the word and his belongings reflect his travels. Our tour lasted just over an hour. One interesting this about the Swift-Coles tour is that you don’t have just one guide the whole time. We had three. All serving different sections of the house. I check the time and see we need to head back home. Kids to pick up. I’m disappointed we don’t have more time to talk history and explore Bon Secour a bit more. It’s only about an hour drive for us and we talk about coming back in a week or two. We’ll see.