North Hill was Pensacola's first up-scale neighborhood, and is such a magnificent place that the entire neighborhood is on the National Historic Register. While most of its homes date from 1895-1940, the neighborhood continued to be developed into the 21st century ... More info ›
North Hill was Pensacola's first up-scale neighborhood, and is such a magnificent place that the entire neighborhood is on the National Historic Register. While most of its homes date from 1895-1940, the neighborhood continued to be developed into the 21st century. As a result, it is the most architecturally diverse in the city. Most of the homes are over 3,500 square feet and have three stories. Veteran realtor, Barbara Odom Westholm, who has worked in the industry for over 30 years, showcases many of the noteworthy homes. She gives far more information than how many bedrooms and baths. She immerses you in the history, showing photos of how things have evolved. She also has interviewed scores of residents, who add fascinating human interest points. At the tour's conclusion, you will get to walk inside one of these North Hill homes and see why this neighborhood is so unique.
The tour begins at Ft. George, which was a fort that sat on the southern end of the neighborhood. You will hear how the military denuded the tree canopy from 1780-1865, after which people with means decided to build on the former military grounds and enjoy the scenic views and breezes off Pensacola Bay. Even today, people in North Hill sometimes dig up artifacts because most of the neighborhood was a battlefield.
You will learn about the "Jingle Bell" house, because its owner was the son of the person who wrote the famous Christmas song. It has been in the same family for over 100 years.
You will see examples of the first type of pine shake roofs, which were popular initially, and then hear why asbestos shingles became the rage. You will also examine interior styles--why and when some covered up their stained wood work.
There is the house whose owners defied many experts and saved it from demolition. Their efforts won them recognition in "This Old House" magazine.
You will see what a house looks like when one shoots Roman candles inside and how it too was saved.
Barbara will describe how the recent housing bubble effected prices in North Hill, and show examples of what happened to one house in particular.
You can experience how a young builder used his talents to rehab a hippy house. Another man describes the home as a wedding gift and also how his father would have his workers move the azaleas around so they got enough sunlight on all sides.
Another neighbor describes how there is no central heat in his 5000 sq. ft. mansion. They use fireplaces exclusively.
You can even see the homes of Marilyn Monroe's mother and Wallis Warfield Simpson.
The tour includes tragic stories also. One family laments how their daughter got lead poisoning. Living while renovating an old house can be dangerous. Another tale involves residents who tried to evade City authorities and do work without a permit.
The stories Barbara and the neighbors relate are amazing. The list goes on. This tour should be mandatory for anyone interested in buying an old house. It is fun, engaging and informative. There is a reason North Hill has the largest voluntary neighborhood association and is seen by some as one of the best places to live in Pensacola.