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Saturday's Historic Home Tour A Success

Dozens of people spent the day marveling at the rich architectural history of the city.

Thanks to the efforts of 100 volunteers, Saturday's Historic Home Tour drew dozens of visitors who spent the day marveling at the historic Victorians, Craftsmen and other iconic architectural homes boasted by the city's downtown area.

The sixth annual event featured seven private homes, four points of interest and five museums.  The homes ran the gamut from elegant Victorians with high ceilings to Arts & Crafts homes with beautiful built-ins of rich, varnished wood.  Kitchens featured impressive Wedgewood stoves, farmhouse sinks, tiled walls and glass-fronted cabinets.   Bathrooms included pedestal sinks and bathtubs surrounded with Art Deco tile. 

Several of the homes on the tour featured beautiful gardens. 

“I heard several comments from visitors about how much they enjoyed the gardens around the Tour homes,” said Sheila Grilli, who represents Martinez on the Contra Costa County Community College Board.

One such home was that of Sabine Pitt’s -- with its flower-filled garden on Alhambra Avenue.  Local tour goers have driven past Sabine’s house many times and they appreciated the opportunity to walk through the garden and see the interior of the home for the first time.  Another garden -- in front of the “Pink Victorian” on Alhambra Avenue -- also delighted visitors with its profusion of fragrant roses.  The bushes were literally covered with blooms. 

“It was as if the roses had timed their display just for the Home Tour”, said Carol Russell.

“The tour goers also enjoyed seeing the antique and classic automobiles that we placed in front of the homes,” said Paul Kraintz, Manager of the County’s Senior Nutrition Program and Meals on Wheels.  “And this year we were fortunate that Steve Weir, Contra Costa County Recorder, agreed to lend us his newly acquired classic Packard for the Home Tour.”

“As an owner of an historic home myself, I enjoy seeing how other people have restored their older homes”, said John Curtis, President of the Historical Society.  “I have gotten several ideas that I will incorporate into my own home, the 1927 Granshaw House, which I hope to put on the Home Tour one day.”

The monument to the Martini was a point of interest on this year’s Tour.  “The monument is of particular interest to me”, said Home Tour photographer Carter Wilson, “since I arranged for E Clampus Vitus to install the monument in 1992.  We placed it on the exact location of the former saloon where Julio Richelieu invented the Martini in 1874.”

“At least 100 visitors stopped at the Martinez Museum during the Home Tour”, reported Andrea Blachman, Museum Director.  “Museum visitors signed our logbook which enabled us to determine that about 2/3 of them came from out of town.  They came from as far east as Sacramento and as far south as Santa Clara.”

For the last two years, the Tour has begun at the Shell Clubhouse, where complementary coffee and refreshments were available during the event. 

“Shell is delighted to be able to make the Clubhouse available for the Home Tour”, said Shell spokesperson Cathy Ivers.  “Gay Gerlack did a great job of putting together the exhibit at the Clubhouse of vintage camera equipment and photographs.  And we loved the music that Joe Warner played on the Shell piano; his parents own the ‘Pink Victorian” which was on the Tour." 

“We also had musicians stationed elsewhere during the event, said Home Tour Chair, Carolyn Boone Duncan.  “We also included Martinez’s very own Doll Hospital on the Tour since it was in the vicinity of the homes.  We also included City Hall, which began life as a grammar school in 1917, and which was graced for the day by an array of historical displays and exhibits put up by Barbara Patchin.  Visitors were able to sit and rest in the City Council chambers while Harriett Burt spoke to them about the building’s interesting history.”

Carolyn went on to say “There are so many people to thank for working on the Home Tour that it is impossible to list them all.  It takes the combined efforts of about 100 volunteers to put on this event.  All of these volunteers are proud of Martinez, of its historic heritage, and welcome the opportunity to showcase our town for visitors.”

Additional information can also be found at the Martinez Home Tour website:  www.MartinezHomeTour.com

Harriett Burt October 18, 2012 at 05:29 PM
It was a great event, particularly because this year's selection of homes were mainly originally built as homes for workers and their families -- an interesting and somewhat unusual feature for a Historic Home Tour in any community, I suspect. Congratulations to the Committee for the great amount of work they put in over the past few months for such a smooth event.

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