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Old 07-08-2010, 08:56 PM
 
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We were just invited to participate in our town's Historic Homes Tour this fall.

I'm a bit hesitant since we are currently under renovation/construction.

The flip side is we live in a very "public" house and the first thing eveyone says upon learning our address is "I've always wanted to see the inside of that house".

I thought I'd ask here first since many of you seem to have lovely houses. Have you ever participated in a historic and/or decorator's tour?

Pros/Cons?

Overall, what was your experience?

I just wish this invite came three years later. Then we would be ready, willing and able.
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:06 PM
 
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Congratulations on the invitation. If you are not ready I would not hesitate to explain the situation and ask to be considered for an invitation "next year". I would think the organizing body of the historic homes tour would be most understanding.
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:40 PM
 
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Wow...I would love to see pictures!!!!
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Old 07-08-2010, 11:08 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, Texas
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I have one of those houses like yours. Even when I am outside, people walking by ask if they can see inside. I always respectfully decline.
I was invited, begged, to put my house on a tour. I would have to clear the house of all pictures and personal identification items....degrees, pictures, anything that points to who I am. Then I would have to leave during the tour hours. There would be a person in the house to watch over it.
I declined. It was way too much trouble and I did not want to have unknown numbers of people who paid some dollar amount to see my house. I just felt like I would have been violated and put on display. Another issue was that anyone could buy tickets and "case the joint"
I still et asked every year, I still decline.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Philaburbia
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It certainly is flattering to be asked! But if it would be a hassle because of your renovation projects, then you have every right to decline, or ask to be asked again in a couple of years.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:35 AM
 
Location: England
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Even the Queen opens Buckingham Palace to tourists in the Summer but she does have very good security and has the sense not to be there either!

I wouldn't do it - if people want to gawp at your house from the outside, fine but it's your home and there's nothing very "historic" about your personal possessions.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:14 AM
 
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Thanks for the replies so far. Now I'm hoping to hear from someone who has gone ahead and thrown open the doors, so to speak. Any stories?

As far as security and privacy go, not too worried about that. We live in a smallish town and everyone kind of knows we live here anyway. As far as valuables? Don't own much. In fact we always joke that if a burglar broke into the house he would have destroyed our most precious possession: the leaded glass windows!

The organizer said we would be in control of how much of the house we wish to open. I've taken the homes tour in the past and found that owner's wishes were respected and the event provides plenty of docents.

I had a thought that since we are under renovation, it might be cool to highlight that aspect. I would clear the area of all personal possessions and actually have some of the workers here demonstrating plaster repair and how windows are restored. Make it more educational, rather than "come look at my (cat-hair covered) sofa".

That plan would also sort of let me off the hook, cleaning-wise. One would expect dust and chaos in a work area, right?

For those who have asked; our house isn't "grand". It's one of the smaller houses in the neighborhood. It's like a little story book cottage.

What makes it unique:
It was built by one of the early "founding families" in our town.
It has all original features intact--windows, doors, bathrooms. Very little remodeling over the years (other than a bad 1980s kitchen).
It's very whimsical. Almost as if a child designed it. Little nooks and crannies, a balcony, built-ins. Tons of woodwork and trim.

I'm leaning toward saying "yes" at this point because I'm something of a house-voyeur myself. OK, I'm nosey. I would be disappointed if I bought a ticket for the tour in this neighborhood and this particular house wasn't on the tour.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Philaburbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plaidmom View Post
I had a thought that since we are under renovation, it might be cool to highlight that aspect. I would clear the area of all personal possessions and actually have some of the workers here demonstrating plaster repair and how windows are restored. Make it more educational, rather than "come look at my (cat-hair covered) sofa".
That's a good point. About the renovation, not the cat hair.

Can I play with your adorable kitty (can't remember if you have only one, or multiple kitties) if I buy a ticket?
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:39 AM
 
Location: South Park, San Diego
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I live in a historic neighborhood and every year we have an "Old House Fair" with the tag-line "Where to go when your Contractor has been dead for 70 years" so, local vendors and construction/design professionals who specialize in older homes, it is a great thing for the community and also includes walking, trolley tours of the neighborhood and a home and garden tour -usually about 5-6 homes. Our home has been on the tour twice (it is pretty cute- haha) the experience was great, no problems at all. It is very well organized and we have upwards of five docents in our small seven room house. We recently had another tour to benefit a local theatre and there is a garden tour lady on her own who always brings a big group to the back once a year.

Once you get over the freak-out aspect of it, realize that everyone are like-minded folks who appreciate homes and architecture, the chances of someone stealing something or damage is totally minimal (there has never been any problems in any of the homes in 10 years). Having some folks "ooh and ahh" about your house and garden, even as they live in multi-million dollar homes up the way, is kinda nice. I am an architectural designer and have done a good amount of design work in the house and will admit I've gotten a few jobs because of the tours so thats a good thing too, I have "before" and "after" pictures and since there are other folks trying to figure out how to improve their home they love to see those.

It's a good excuse to get your house and garden spiffed up too, the place never looks better (and it is never perfect) but after all that hard work cleaning we double down and usually have a party or dinner of some kind that night since the place is so presentable.

Some people (in fact, I would say most) are private to the extreme and would cringe at the thought at the strangers in their house- I'm like you, completely the opposite, friendly to the extreme and a house junky- we invite strangers off the street to look at the house and garden when they are admiring it and have gotten sweet little cards of thanks for making their day. We are admittedly house proud in a neighborhood of similar quality homes and gardens and probably mostly because it is a very modest place that nonetheless evokes a lot of smiles in folks who see it.

Do it, its stressful but a blast!

edit: I just realized its you Plaidmom- what are you thinking? Your house is gorgeous! Share the whimsical beauty haha- I'd be the one lurking outside waiting to finally be let in ;-)

Last edited by T. Damon; 07-09-2010 at 11:49 AM..
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
30,327 posts, read 75,340,676 times
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OUr first time having a house on tour, we were under renovation. THe themse of the tour was before, during and after rennovation. We thought that we were to be the "before" house, but we were during.

We only opened certain areas of the house. We dressed up in period clothing and acted as our own docents. We had a blast.

Each time we were on the tour we had 800-1200 people come through. Most were very nice and respectful. Most removed their shoes without being asked (no high heels on hardwood floors). We did have to remove small items that might get taken, but I am nto sure it was really necessary.

A few people made rude comments. Many without known that they were being rude. One lady started crying and said that our house reminded her of her house just after the Northridge earthquake.

OVerall it was fun and it made us proud to learn that so many people would pay for the opportunity to see our house (among others). We do furnish our home entirely with antique furniture so it was neat to see people Ohh and ahh over our efforts to keep everything period.

It was even better when we were on the tour a few years later. Several people had come to the earlier tour and were absolutely amazed at the transformation.

Personally I tink that it is an honor to be selected for a home tour.

I think it is unlikey that many people are going to pay $35 for a home tour just to "case" the house, especially since, with most old houses there are a lot of windows and they can look in and see what you have anyway. Beside, all of the other people on the tour had better stuff than us, so the "casers" woudl go there instead. (Plus they would also see the huge dogfood bowl and toys and realize that we ahve a giant dog in the house). We never had any problems. We had a lot of fun realting the stories of restoring the house, and what we learned about the history of the various residents.
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