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More than a 10-cent Tour

Historic Fairfax Homes Tour provides guests with inside look into way people live.

One turn down Kirktree Court is like stepping onto a movie set in Burbank, Calif. The street is tucked away behind an auto dealership and nestled in between cookie-cutter neighborhoods, but its quaint style stands out in Northern Virginia.

"I remember when these houses were being built and I thought, ‘how beautiful’," said Tom Ross, a guest at the Historic Fairfax Homes Tour, Saturday, May 5. "They’re very attractive."

The street was built by Vienna, Va.-based architect Steve Bukont, beginning in 1996. While Kirktree Court is a cul-de-sac in the suburbs, residents don’t have to read their own addresses in order to recognize their homes.

"This is the style of [America’s] first suburbs," said Trish Fabio, a homes tour docent. "It’s an interesting neighborhood."

That is why Karen Stevenson, president of Historic Fairfax Inc., decided to ask some of the homeowners on Kirktree Court if they would be interested in showing some hospitality to the entire city for the Historic Homes Tour. Three homes ended up open to the public, and guests liked what they saw.

The Davis home, one of the Kirktree residences open for the tour, is an arts-and-crafts-style bungalow. Across the street is the Warner home, which is more of a classic country farmhouse. It features a wrap-around porch and a deck that overlooks a colorful backyard landscape. The basement is where the owners kick back, as it features rustic furniture, a pool table and entertainment center. The docent said the owner worked in the airline industry for more than 30 years, which is why the basement’s walls are lined with artwork showing many depictions of planes and geographical locations.

The third Kirktree house, the Wheeler Smith home, is designed like a Victorian farmhouse, featuring contemporary, but comfortable, interiors.

A newer home was featured on the tour this year: the Barber residence. The home is in the Farrcroft development, where many homes do look alike. It sits on land that once belonged to Samuel Farr, the brother-in-law of Fairfax founder, Richard Ratcliffe, which brought in a bit of historical relevance to the home built in 2001.

The William Gunnell House is one of the most famous historic properties in the city. Confederate Col. John Mosby’s captured Union General Edwin Stoughton there in 1863. Truro Church owns the house and uses it as office space, so it’s rarely open to the public. Stevenson said she was excited to have it on the tour this year.

The home served as the hub for this year’s tour, since Truro Church provided its parking lot for guests of the tour. Re-enactors in tradition Civil War-era dress greeted guests and told them tales of the Civil War events and battles that took place nearby. City Councilmember Patrice Winter dressed up as Antonia Ford, the Confederate spy who aided Mosby during the war.

The two other properties on the tour were located just off Chain Bridge Road, between Fairfax Boulevard and Main Street. The Bleak House, located on Chain Bridge Road and Stratford Avenue, dates back to 1851. The Old Mayor’s House, off Cedar Avenue, dates back to the 1920s.

<1b>— Lauren Glendenning