Photographer Richard Leo Johnson
There’s enough character in this 450-square-foot beach cottage to brighten an entire block. In fact, that’s exactly why the 1920s structure stands today. A passion for old houses and old things drew owner and preservationist Jane Coslick to save it from demolition. Now available for weekly vacation rentals, the cottage shares history and charm with everyone who passes by its hot-pink exterior.
Originally, visitors could get to Tybee Island only by train, so when the corps of engineers began building a road, this cottage and four others were built to house workers. After cars made the railroad obsolete, the owners of this house moved the Tybee train-ticket booth onto their property, where it sat dormant in the backyard for 25 years. Later, the cypress structure (see page 39) was elevated onto pilings, and Jane converted it into a separate sleeping porch that, appropriately, goes by the name “The Ticket Booth.” Incredibly, the original ticket window is still intact.
“This is a true beach cottage,” says Jane, who kept the home’s integrity while adding modern conveniences. She painted the interior wood walls white, replaced rotten flooring and old cabinetry, and installed heating and air-conditioning. An outdoor laundry facility and a wood-and-corrugated-aluminum shower sit just beyond the back door. Previous owners enclosed the front porch, where a daybed now makes more room for guests. Jane cut a window-like opening into a partition wall connecting the home’s bedroom with the living area, so the tiny house feels more open. She painted some trimwork aqua blue to accent the original ribbon windows, which still glide upward into the walls and allow the salt air to blow through.
The interiors came together with a blend of recycled objects and flea market finds: lively local artwork, zebra-print fabric, and even an old lobster trap turned coffee table. In The Ticket Booth, Jane crafted beds with driftwood collected from Tybee’s shores. “Nothing is too precious here,” she says. “This place just wraps around you. It’s enchanting.”
If the house isn’t enough to make you yearn for the simple life, just walk out the front door. There’s nothing pretentious about Tybee Island—no golf courses, no stuffy restaurants, no spa, no five-star accommodations. Instead, you’ll find uncrowded beaches, seafood dives, and pristine barrier islands. If you lose your way exploring, don’t worry. Ask for the pink house with the honeydew-color awning and just about anyone can point you in the right direction.
(published January/February 2009)