Editor's Note: The following article was submitted by the Martinez Historical Society. To submit an article for publication, please e-mail email@example.com.
Six homeowners in Martinez are busy making last minute preparations for the Historic Home Tour on Saturday.
Over the course of the day, the homeowners expect several hundred visitors to traipse through their houses and gardens to admire both the exterior and interior of their historic homes.
The houses that the homeowners live in this year represent four historic home styles: Folk Victorian, English Cottage, Colonial Revival and Spanish Revival. All the homes were built between 1904 and 1930.
Most of these homes were built in the area where the Christian Brothers Winery and Vineyard were located – before the Order moved to the Napa Valley.
The oldest homes on the Tour are a pair of Folk Victorian houses on Ulfinian Way. Two sisters built these homes side-by-side in 1904 and 1905.
At that time, the Christian Brothers Vineyard stretched out behind these two homes. Today, Stacey Nichols owns the younger sister’s home while Craig and Shelly Thompson own the older sister’s home.
“When we learned about the history of our homes, it brought us together,” said Shelly. “Stacey and I may not be sisters, but we are now very close friends.”
According to Sabine Pitts, “Shelly’s house is so cute inside that it’s hard to tear yourself away from one room and move on to the next.” Sabine’s lushly landscaped Alhambra Avenue house was on last year’s home tour.
There is one Craftsman home on the Tour. It is located on Court Street and was built in 1917. It is owned today by Tom and Reeny Dorsher.
When asked why they placed their house on the Tour, Reeny replied, “I love my house and I would love to have other people see it.”
One of the reasons to see the house is to investigate the optical illusion inside, though it is more subtle than those found at the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. Another reason to visit the house is to see the Anaglypta ceilings.
Anaglypta is a highly embossed wall paper that almost looks like plaster work. It was a Victorian invention which was quickly embraced by homeowners because it was the first washable wall paper to be developed.
The Dorsher house is just a stone’s throw from the Martinez Junior High School – which is also on Court Street. The school is a 1931 Spanish Revival structure, and it is one of 7 “points of interest” on the Tour.
The points of interest are noteworthy homes or public buildings which can be admired from the outside. However, they will not be open like the 6 homes which are on the Tour.
Many of the homes on the Tour attest to the homeowners’ hobbies and life styles. That is the case with Ralph and Celinda Sattler’s 1929 Colonial Revival home on Warren Street. Ralph is a photographer and Celinda is an artist, so it’s not surprising that the walls of the home are adorned with their works.
The house was on the Garden Club’s tour about two decades ago. “However,” said Celinda, “We’ve completed many home improvement and renovation projects since then, and we wanted to let everyone see what the house looks like now.”
Our soldiers in World War I became enamored of the centuries old homes of England. That caused a surge of interest in the Romantic Revival movement which peaked in the 1920s and produced several picturesque types of home including the English Cottage style.
An example of this style, also located on Warren Street, can be found on this year’s Tour. Built in 1930, the owners of this house are now Keith and Karolina Parks. Both horticulturists, they have owned the house less than a year, but are making good headway in restoring the garden.
“One of our pastimes is going on home tours,” said Keith “and we feel so lucky to have found this house. It’s just like the ones we’ve seen on the tours. It really captured us emotionally.” Keith and Karolina enjoy working old houses, so the home is now in good hands.
Over on “E” Street, next to Alhambra High School, Carol Russell Schultz and her husband have placed the historic Costanza Home on the Tour. This beautiful 1928 Spanish Revival home is almost perfectly preserved – replete with Moorish window moldings, decorative tiles, iron work, antique light fixtures, garden walls and more. The home was featured in the Gazette’s edition of September 22.
Carolyn Boone Duncan is the chair of the Home Tour Committee. When queried, Carolyn said “This is a golden opportunity for people to see the interiors of the homes on the Tour. They may never have the chance again.”
Carolyn went on to point out that a neighborhood church will also be on the Tour. It is the 1st Congregational Church on Court Street, a 1928 Spanish Revival structure with a bell tower and extraordinary stained glass windows.
The Tour will start at the Shell Clubhouse, a significant 1937 Arts & Crafts building. The town’s four museums will also be open and on the Tour. The background information about every home and building on the Tour will be included in the 50 page booklet which each visitor will receive.
The Tour will include exhibits, entertainment and refreshments. Visitors can take the complementary shuttle buses which will depart every 10 minutes. The route can also be driven or even walked.
The Tour date is Saturday, Oct. 12 and the hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, or to see the homes that will be on the Tour, please go to the Home Tour website: www.MartinezHomeTour.com.