For Guy and Joan Pyron, the Azalea Trails is much more than just an opportunity to showcase their historic home at 212 W. Dobbs St.

"This is our way of giving back to a community that has been so good to us," Ms. Pyron said.

Guy and Joan Pyron moved to Tyler in 1994, after more than a decade of visiting and enjoying the Azalea District and Lake Tyler.  The couple found themselves visiting so often that, eventually, it just made sense for them to buy a home in the area.

Like many tourists, the Pyrons fell in love with the picturesque neighborhoods and historic landmarks.

According to the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Azalea Trails economic impact totaled more than $1.7 million last spring. As impressive as that figure might be, due to bad weather and a late freeze, it was short of the average $2.5 to 2.8 million that the city's economy usually reaps.

"(The weather) could definitely affect the visitors this weekend, but we've already got people coming through," Susan Travis said. "I expect next weekend to be really good."

An estimated 68,770 tourists visited Smith County in 2014, including 808 groups. 2013's estimated number of tourists stood at 98,624.

The Pyrons, who had been high school sweethearts before going their separate ways and then reconnecting, saw an opportunity to create something that they could not have while living in Dallas.

When they did take that step, they chose a historic home that had been run-down by years or neglect. They decided not to take before and after photos, because, according to Guy, "It was so bad we didn't want to see it."

In the 20 years since they moved to the Azalea district, they have renovated the house and garden. Guy taught himself to lay stone and work iron to create many of the distinctive flairs that has made their home one of the most beloved on the tour.

Their dogs, Maggie and Sarah, have also become a large draw for the crowds.

"They're the real stars of the show," Mrs. Pyron said. The couple also have two adult children, Jack and Holly.

With hats on and baskets around their necks, the pups greet visitors each spring. Mrs. Pyron spends her days in the garden, planting most of the flowers herself.

"I feel like this is God's garden, not mine," said Mrs. Pyron. "Guy and I are just the caretakers."

The Pyron's faith plays a large role in their decision to make themselves and their home so open, they attend Green Acres Baptist Church. They try to keep the garden as open and accessible as possible and don't mind showing the home upon request.

The Pyrons have found a sense of community in the Azalea District. They say the neighbors made them feel like family from the beginning and are always quick to help each other out. In fact, visitors might notice that several of the homes in the area have iron gates made by Guy. The Pyrons even have an old work truck that they share with neighbors whenever someone needs to go pick up supplies.

They hope to have new neighbors soon, Jack and his wife, Robin, are already in the process of searching for a home of their own in the neighborhood.  Jack and Robin hope to find a place by June, which would give them plenty of time to get ready for next year's trails.

For more information about the Azalea trails and dozens of other events happening concurrently, visit www.visittyler.com/azaleatrail.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory

 
 

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.