A total of eight homes and cottages are to be featured on a very special springtime tour. This presents an opportunity to learn more about Old Town Fernandina and peek inside some beautiful homes in the Old Town Historic District, including the “Captain’s House.”
Impossible to miss when passing through Old Town is the “Captain’s House” (pictured above). Circa 1888, it’s the most well-known historic home in Old Town Fernandina, built by harbor pilot James Bell. This lovely residence borders the Fernandina Plaza and can clearly be seen by boaters on the river with its high tower and gabled dormers. This home is also known as the “Downes House” after another captain who purchased the home in 1903.
Pippi Longstocking House, “Villa Villekulla”
More people, however, may know it as “Villa Villekulla,” or Pippi Longstocking’s house. A century after it was originally built, the historic home appeared in the 1988 movie, “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.” (Those who watch the movie will recognize various scenes around Fernandina Beach.) This upcoming home tour is a very unique opportunity to actually see inside “Villa Villekulla.”
The one-day event is happening Saturday, April 8, 2023, hosted by the Amelia Island Museum in partnership with the Old Town Dinghy Club. Home tour tickets cost $25 when purchased in advance online. See more details further below.
Besides Amelia Island visitors, there are plenty of new residents who’ve moved here to Nassau County, FL in recent years who may not have yet explored Old Town Fernandina.
Spanish Old Town
This riverfront enclave celebrated its bicentennial back in 2011 with an event-packed day of activities focusing on Old Town’s Spanish heritage. Old Town was the very last Spanish city platted in the Western Hemisphere. According to the University of Florida “the Old Town grid remains as one of the last and purest examples of the Law of the Indies planning Edict of 1573.”
As seen below in years gone by, the “Captain’s House” in Old Town had previously been painted white.
Imagine Captain Bell, back in the late 1800s, climbing into the tower with its fabulous view of the river to monitor the shipping traffic on the water. Wonderful features include “fish-scale-shingles, gable dormers, cupola, bay windows, ornate hoods and cornices,” architectural details described by the Florida Building Commission. The striking residence stands out from the perspective of the water, as well.
Old Town Fernandina Historic District
Many visitors also stop by Old Town to take in the fantastic, panoramic riverfront view, especially gorgeous at sunset.
The state park has exhibit signs (pictured below) along the riverfront, explaining Old Town’s history.
Where To Pick Up Old Town Home Tour Tickets?
The April 8, 2023 Old Town home tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The eight homes and cottages are in close proximity to each other (an easy walk). Tickets purchased online can be picked up in Old Town the day of the home tour at the WILL CALL table located at 800 Someruleus Street (they will not be mailed). Tickets can also be purchased at the Amelia Island Museum, address: 233 S. Third Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 (or via phone). Questions? Call the Museum at 904-261-7378. Note that tickets bought on the day of event go up in price to $30.
Never Been To Old Town Fernandina?
On Amelia Island, turn onto North 14th Street from Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach and continue past the entrances to the paper mill and Bosque Bello Cemetery. Old Town is on the left, just before the 14th Street Bridge over Egans Creek.
About Parking In Old Town During Tour
There’s very limited parking in Old Town at the riverfront state park site — Fernandina Plaza. Tour guests are advised to also seek parking along these alternative streets: Ladies and Garden Street, or Estrada Street (on the north and south ends). Please don’t block driveways. Also, visitors are being asked not to park on White Street.
Other things to keep in mind for this home tour: No interior photography allowed, no food or drink nor kids under 12 years old. And do wear comfortable shoes (no high heels inside these homes).