The Places We Call Home
Words & Interview by Rosalind Fournier • Image by Wes Frazer
Join us for a new series in the Alys Gazette, a study of the names of the homes of Alys and the stories of their owners. These are The Places We Call Home.
The Places We Call Home — Villa Marjorie

To name is to recognize worth. What affection is revealed in the act of naming—a person, a thing, a place. For certain, naming may be utilitarian—a way to identify a place by naming its purpose. But as the early visionaries of Alys Beach noted through their travels in Bermuda, the residents there—some local, some from far away lands—loved their homes deeply, and in naming those places of theirs, they paid homage to their homelands, their family, or something so beautiful it deserved to be connected to their daily life through words. Fanny’s Fox Cottage. Rosehill. Fairwinds.

It may be that the only name we give to the place in which we dwell is “home.” But at Alys Beach, such is the tradition that each home might be named by those who live their lives there, who share their lives with the town.

Each home at Alys Beach is asked to “give a gift to the street.” Whether that’s a gracious bench along the pedestrian path, fresh fragrant rosemary in the breeze, or a fountain upon the facade, the hope is that a community will thrive by the personalities and gifts each homeowner has to offer. In the same manner, the name of each home is a gift to the larger, growing story of the town.

On a simple stroll about town, as the eye becomes attuned to the abounding details, one might notice a simple placard upon the exterior facade of a home. Etched into that stone, and into the hearts of its owners, is the home’s given name. Some are fanciful, some are deeply meaningful, and some perhaps are even purely practical. But no matter the origin of the name, to be called something is to have value.

When Joree and Jerry Hamm meandered the streets of Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, Joree couldn’t help but feel connected to the place. Her mother, Marjoree (the second of three generations of Marjorees, of which Joree is the third), spent time years earlier in the city, living and loving the life the community fostered. When Joree stumbled across a building named, “Villa Marjorie,” the Panama City native dreamed that one day, she might be fortunate to have her own “Villa Marjorie,” a home for her, inspired by the women who raised her and imbued within her a love of travel.

Years later, in 2015, Joree and Jerry purchased their home in what they affectionately call “Old Town” at Alys Beach (their home was one of the earliest homes built in town, and they’ve been able to see the growth of the town all around them). They’d chosen Alys Beach as their new home for many reasons—the spectacular architecture, the growing and considerate community, and, Joree admits, she’d be remiss to leave out the fact that her grandmother’s own middle name was Alys. Marjoree Alys. Marjoree for whom she was named. Marjoree, the one who inspired the love of travel that both Joree and her mother held dear.

So it was clear. For their Alys Beach home, the name “Villa Marjorie” was perfect. The place they now call home is a place that witnesses the next chapter of her life and holds dear a reminder of the people and places in her past that meant most to her.

Villefranche-sur-Mer, France