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Clifton Homes Tour Thursday, May 18

Visitors will see American and international treasures.

Chandeliers from France, a stained-glass door, 100-year-old plank floors and a Spanish-marble mantel are but a few highlights awaiting visitors to the 34th annual Clifton Community Woman's Club Homes Tour.

"We have four outstanding homes, including the home of the president of George Mason University," said homes-tour chairman Pat Riedinger. "We also have a number of fine vendors at our boutiques, wonderful items at the silent auction and a fabulous art show."

THE TOUR, itself, is next Thursday, May 18, from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Two of the houses open to the public are in Clifton, one is in Fairfax Station and one is in Fairfax. Also on display will be the Clifton Primitive Baptist Church — the oldest African-American church in Fairfax County.

However, the fun actually begins the day before, Wednesday, May 17, from 5-8 p.m., with a boutique, silent auction, book sale and local women's art show and sale. They'll also be held on tour day, with the art show closing at 4:30 p.m. and the silent auction ending at 5 p.m. Several Clifton stores will be open that Wednesday, from 5-8 p.m. and, of course, will also welcome customers on Thursday.

In addition, Clifton's two restaurants, the Heart in Hand and the Hermitage Inn, both on Main Street, will be serving lunch the day of the tour from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Reservations are suggested and may be made by calling: Heart in Hand, 703-830-4111; or the Hermitage, 703-266-1623. The Clifton Store will offer boxed lunches, soup and sandwiches until 2 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and $20 on tour day. They may be purchased in the Town of Clifton at Baskets & Boughs, Willow Antiques, Cottage Art, The Clifton Store and Ann's Boutique. They're also for sale at Temptations in the Colonnade at Union Mill shopping center and at Judy Ryan in the Twinbrook Shopping Center in Fairfax. Tickets will available, as well, in the homes on tour. Call 703-830-3705 or 703-830-3418.

The woman's club sponsors the homes tour and is its the annual fund-raiser to benefit local charities and scholarships. Net proceeds go to the club's charitable-trust fund to be distributed later in the year. Four scholarships are awarded. One goes to a student who'll attend NOVA, and the other three go to GMU students. One of the GMU scholarships is for performing arts, one is a general scholarship and the third is given to a graduate student in education.

DONATIONS ARE given to the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum and to entities such as Fairfax County's Area Agency on Aging and the Bethany House shelter. "Last year, we donated to Friends of Burke Library," said Riedinger. "And in the past, we've contributed to the Fairfax Symphony's education fund and to Camp Easter Seals."

The boutique, silent auction and book sale will be held in the Clifton Town Meeting Hall at 12641 Chapel Road. At the boutique, visitors may browse through a wide array of linens, jewelry, accessories, country-garden art, chocolates, throws, handbags and books.

The silent auction is in the same location and features items including Washington Redskins tickets, gift certificates to restaurants; theme gift baskets and services and merchandise donated by local merchants. Among the prizes auctioned off last year were Redskins box-seat tickets, theater and performing-arts tickets, lodging at The Inn at Gristmill Square and gift certificates for salons and day spas, garden nurseries, jewelry stores and restaurants.

The art show will be held in the conservatory room of the Hermitage Inn and will feature a variety of styles and subjects. Club president Betty Bosanko is chairman of the art show, and all pieces are framed and ready to hang.

This year's homes-tour sponsors are Cottage Arts, Eminence Jewelers, Friends of Tim Hugo, George Mason Mortgage, Judy Ryan of Fairfax, Patio Enclosures, Peter Market Inc., Regal Dry Cleaners, RulyScapes and Wolf Run Realty.

The event usually attracts 700-800 people, and Riedinger says this year's homes tour should be no exception. "It's a wonderful outing and a chance to be with friends, do something exciting and get some good decorating ideas," she explained. "It should really be great. We're all looking forward to it and we hope the public is, too."

The homes on tour are as follows:

<sh>Merten Home

<bt>Called the Mathy House, this brick Colonial is home to GMU President Alan Merten and his wife Sally. Built in 1964 on Popes Head Road in Fairfax, it features two-story exterior columns and a spectacular, two-story foyer.

Italian marble accentuates the floor and many of the fireplaces, and chandeliers from Belgium, Ireland, France and Spain may be found throughout the house. Visitors will also see a bust of George Mason, photographs from the Lyndon Johnson White House and other treasures of the American heritage.

<sh>Wark Home

<bt>Bill and Lynne Garvey Wark live in the Canary Cottage on Clifton's Main Street. It was built in 1884 and now is also a bed-and-breakfast. Artist Lynne has decorated it in tones of peach, coral, yellow, blue, mint-green and white. Don't miss the 400-piece collection of snails, as well as the stained-glass door from the original Clifton Inn. There's even a claw-foot bathtub from the Willard Hotel and a gazebo in the yard.

<sh>Presta Home

<bt>The home of Frank and Mary Presta on Redlac Drive in Fairfax Station is a showpiece of Colonial craftsmanship. The wide-plank, pine floors are a century old, and colors in this house are in shades of sage, blue and red. The recently remodeled kitchen/family room boasts cherry cabinets, granite counters and a beamed ceiling with hanging baskets.

<sh>Blades Home

<bt>Elsa and Arthur Blades live in this elegant Colonial on Shari Hunt Grove in Clifton. Italian bronze sculptures, a Spanish, Carrera-marble mantel and a hand-painted mural are on display here. Visitors will also marvel at the collections of Chinese house tiles and Japanese artifacts in this internationally influenced home.