Clifton is an area known for homes elegant, historic and often both. Each spring, a few of the homeowners open their doors and share their ideas for home renovation and decoration. The Clifton Community Woman's Club Homes Tour and Marketplace, asserts club member Lynn Garvey-Wark, is "one of the highlights of living in Clifton."
Garvey-Wark painted watercolor portraits of the four homes that will be on display May 17, and she also will exhibit calligraphy and watercolors of Clifton scenes in the Local Women's Art Show that will accompany the homes tour, as part of the Marketplace and Silent Auction May 16 and 17.
When selecting homes for the tour, "the overall characteristic we're looking for is that 'Wow, isn't that different?' or 'Isn't that elegant?'" said Debby Crosier, who is chairing this year's event. Crosier said the club also takes into consideration collections of art and artifacts and tried to achieve a "nice smattering" of old and new and of different styles.
Two of the homes on this year's tour are historic, turn-of-the-century buildings, with some renovations.
When Pete and Sara Noonan bought their home on Chapel Road in 2002, it was already more than 100-years-old and not much altered since it was built, said Sara Noonan. It was based on a four-square design, with four rooms on each of the two levels, one bathroom, no closets, no dishwasher pr garbage disposal and not enough room in the kitchen for a refrigerator.
"It was pretty tough for awhile in here," she said.
However, after a 16-month renovation, completed last year, the floor space in the house has more than doubled, from roughly 1,100 square feet to 2,500 square feet. The addition is more open and modern, with skylights and vaulted ceilings, while the original portion was left more or less the same, except for the installation of some closets and a bathroom.
However, said Noonan, the architect who designed the addition, a neighbor named Roy Jarrendt, managed to make the two parts looks like a whole.
"He's really amazing at being able to see new spaces in a way that makes them flow and connect," she said.
The Woman's Club credits the Noonans' interior decorating with "exquisite, eclectic taste."
"You couldn't really call it a traditional style," said Sara Noonan. Folk art from Mexico and Spain is an element, as well as "odd bits of history" from the house and yard. Among these is an old, worn-out children's bicycle, on which at least three different paint jobs are apparent.
Since the house had belonged to one family, the Sprouses, for more than 100 years before its new owners moved in, Sara Noonan said she felt obliged to include some of their history in the new decorating scheme. The Noonans are also making a table from one of the dismantled cupboards an left the doors to the children’s rooms untouched, although they are not in great shape. "You can see where the kids wrote on them," including a brazen "KEPP OUT," she said. "It just seemed so kid-perfect for the house."
THE HISTORIC HOME on the tour is the Paxson home, also known as "The Wine House," on Pendleton Street. The house was built in 1904 by C.H. Wine and has been renovated and refurbished by several owners since. The current owner, Raie Paxson, has incorporated her collections of antiques, pottery and paintings in to the interior decoration.
Outside of town, the Patrick home is a big, two-story colonial featuring a balconied library, an extensive antique collection, and a variety of prints and sculptures.
The Fannon house, also located outside of town, features a wood-paneled library, hanging mirrors and a salvaged stained-glass window.
Crosier noted that Teresa Fannon is an antique dealer, and she and her husband have had some of their plaster walls covered with murals to provide a background for her antique collection.
Tickets for the Homes Tour, which is Thursday, May 17, from 9:30 a.m-3:30 p.m., cost $20 in advance (see sidebar, Purchase Tickets) and $25 on the day of the tour. Single-home admission will be available at each home for $10. All proceeds go to local charities.
No tickets will be required, however, for the Marketplace and Silent Auction, which will operate Wednesday, May 16 from 5-8 p.m. and Thursday, May 17, from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Crosier said the boutique at the Clifton Meeting Hall will feature 14 vendors selling packaged gourmet food, as well as pottery, crafts, jewelry and other items, most of which will be hand-made.
In the Conservatory Room of the Hermitage Inn Restaurant, the Local Women's Art Show will exhibit 52 pieces of artwork in a variety of media. All art will be for sale.
The silent auction at Clifton Presbyterian Church will have 50 -60 items, including gift certificates for restaurant dinners and for a wine dinner at a local winery, various merchandise donated by event sponsors and a dozen or so themed gift baskets made by the Woman's Club.
Crosier also noted that on Thursday, May 17, a free shuttle will be running between all the in-town locations. "Hopefully, we'll have people running around with big, heavy packages," she said.