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Wendell and Nancy Fontenot, 1200 Shell Beach Drive. (Virginia Webb / Special to the American Press)

Wendell and Nancy Fontenot, 1200 Shell Beach Drive. (Virginia Webb / Special to the American Press)

Palm Sunday Tour of Homes features Shell Beach Drive homes

Last Modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:12 AM

By Frank DiCesare / Special to the American Press

When Anne Reinauer and her husband, David, bought their home on 813 Shell Beach Drive in 1971, the house was in desperate need of repair.

The Louisiana-style cottage had been vacant for about 15 years and the signs of neglect were everywhere. But the young couple saw potential in their new home and began the long task of making it a place to raise a family.

“I like a clean slate,” Anne Reinauer said. “We spent about two months getting our house ready for us to move in and then little by little we made repairs. Many of the things we did were done step by step.”

Next week, the Reinauer residence of 42 years will be one of five homes featured in the 38th annual Palm Sunday Tour of Homes, which will be 1-5 p.m. March 24. This year’s tour, “Windows on the Water,” will focus on homes along Shell Beach Drive.

“We all drive by homes in town and wonder what it looks like in there,” said Donna Richard, the event’s chairperson and resident of Shell Beach Drive. “We’re all alike; it’s kind of human nature. But for those of us with historical homes, we’re proud of them and we like to share them.”

Also on tour this year will be the Shell Beach Drive homes of Jim and Claudia Boyer at 823, John and Sherrie Raggio at 811, Frank and Diane Walker at 623, and Wendell and Nancy Fontenot at 1200.

Between 500 and 600 visitors are expected to partake in this year’s tour.

Tickets are $10 per person for those who purchase them in advance. Tickets will also be available for purchase at each home for $15, Richard added.

121 Artisan Bistro will offer brunch for those who wish to eat prior to the tour. Seating will begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue until 2:30 p.m. Diners will be served from five buffet stations that will include soups and salads, breakfast and lunch entrees and desserts. The brunch is $39 for adults, $19 for children five to 11 years old, and $5 for children under five years old. Adult purchases include tax, gratuity and a $5 donation to the Margaret Place Historical District. Reservations are required.

Visitors may tour the homes in any order they wish. Each house will have greeters and docents who will guide patrons through the houses. Most houses will allow a select number to tour at one time to avoid bottlenecks, said Adley Cormier, advocacy chair for the Calcasieu Parish Preservation Society, which hosts the event.

Free parking is available on the streets in the Shell Beach Drive area. Deputy sheriffs will be on hand to assist with traffic control and parking. Golf carts will be available to assist those who have difficulty walking for an extended period of time.

“We do recommend that folks carpool and wear comfortable shoes,” Cormier added. “The homes are relatively close with walking paths and sidewalks available.”

All visitors will receive a color program, providing them with background information on each of the homes on this year’s tour. Several houses will also provide visual displays, scrapbooks and historic images.

Cormier said the tour was initiated as a mechanism to inspire people to rethink the value of older homes. He added that all of the homes chosen each year for the tour must be at least 50 years old.

“In the context of France, 50 years is a drop in the bucket,” Cormier said. “But for Louisiana, 50 years is almost a quarter of our entire history. Because of that, we don’t want to become a throw-away society. We want to cherish the value of older architecture.”

For Anne Reinauer, however, this year’s tour is an opportunity for her to show visitors how much her home is an expression of herself and her family.

“The house is full of some fine things, and many humble things,” she said. “I hope they combine all of that into a personal statement.”

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