Norton Manor, one of the homes on the Potomac Country House Tour & Festival, is a 47,000-square-foot estate nestled on 10 manicured acres that includes a 2,000-square-foot koi pond. The Maryland estate is modeled after the White House, Capitol and Palace of Versailles.
Photo by John Troha
58th Potomac Country House Tour and Festival
Friday, Oct. 3:
- Preview Party, 6:30-8:30 p.m. — The first look at 25+ boutiques, silent auctions and raffles, free admission.
Saturday, Oct. 4:
- Festival activities, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. — Boutiques, silent auctions and raffles, and child-friendly activities, free admission.
- Luncheon available from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
- House Tour, 1-4 p.m. —Three homes (Norton Manor, re-imagined Williamsburg colonial, and The Rowe Home) open for tour, as well as Wreath Love at the Carriage House. $30 advance tickets (sold online), $40 day-of tickets (sold at the church and at each home).
Sunday, Oct. 5:
- Festival activities, noon-5 p.m. — Boutiques, silent auctions and raffles (which close at 4 p.m.), and child-friendly activities, free admission.
- Luncheon available from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
- House Tour, 1-4 p.m. — All four homes (Norton Manor, re-imagined Williamsburg colonial, The Rowe Home and Potomac contemporary) open for tour, as well as Wreath Love at the Carriage House. $30 advance tickets (sold online), $40 day-of tickets (sold at the church and at each home).
Four of the area’s homes will open their doors to visitors next month in the name of charity. Officials for the 58th annual Potomac Country House Tour & Festival announced which four of the area’s homes will be part of the October tour. The event, based at and coordinated by Saint Francis Episcopal Church in Potomac, 10033 River Road, is a major part of the community’s effort to provide assistance to local charities.
“Potomac Country House Tour & Festival is important to the community because the majority of the charitable organizations it benefits are based right here in our community, addressing the real-life situational needs of our neighbors,” said Susan Dolan, co-chair, 2014 Potomac Country House Tour & Festival. “There is so much need in the world, so many appeals to help, that we’re often left feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
“Here is work we can do in the face of those feelings, for the St. Francis community, the work of putting together the tour and festival, and for the community around us the very pleasurable work of attending. Simply by taking advantage of the generosity of owners who have opened their homes and local business who have donated goods and services … House Tour patrons make a grateful investment in their own community.”
The four homes featured on the House Tour are Norton Manor, a re-imagined Williamsburg colonial, The Rowe House, and a Potomac contemporary.
Susan and Tracy Vargo own the Re-Imagined Williamsburg Colonial home. “All homes are unique in that they reflect a lot about their occupants,” said Tracy Vargo, an architect. “What makes our home unique is that while it is a never ending work in progress, it is always inviting and comfortable to be in. A lot of thought was given to preserving the best of what was there before, while adapting the house to best fit our needs and activities today. It is functional and thoughtful, but still carries the simple beauty of being livable, which makes it special.”
“Potomac Country House Tour & Festival is important to the community because the majority of the charitable organizations it benefits are based right here in our community.”
— Susan Dolan, co-chair, 2014 Potomac Country House Tour & Festival
The home boasts a cedar-shingled silo, a laser-cut compass in the entryway floor and three distinctive loft spaces accessed by individual spiral staircases.
Jim Rill of Rill Architects remodeled the Vargo’s home. “We renovated the home with the scale of the neighboring homes in mind and created spaces with timeless architecture,” he said. “We integrated the design within its contextual surroundings. We also enjoyed the close collaboration with the owners, who had a lot of great ideas as far as the renovations, which we molded into a comprehensive, flowing design that is unique.”
Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman are frequents hosts of philanthropic events at Norton Manor, their 47,000-square-foot estate. Modeled after the White House, Capitol and Palace of Versailles, and the manor is nestled on 10 manicured acres that include a 2,000-square-foot koi pond.
The design of the Rowe House, a charming colonial, includes antique collections, custom-made cabinets, chemical-free paints and environmentally friendly materials. It also features a bright sewing room that reflects the homeowner’s love of handiwork.
Metals, modern art, striking clean lines and whitewashed wood beams characterize the design style adored by Deborah Kalkstein. These elements are incorporated into Contemporaria, her Potomac contemporary style home.
In addition to the home tours, the festival features boutique-style vendors selling gifts and accessories. It began in 1956 as a church mission, but has evolved into one of the church’s signature activities and a community charity event. The event raises thousands of dollars each year for local, national and international charities that address homelessness, hunger, issues affecting women and children, elder care and evangelical endeavors.
“At St. Francis, the Potomac Country House Tour is all about community,” said Barbara Heywood, president, Women of St. Francis. “One hundred fifty volunteers from our community join generous-hearted owners of lovely homes located in our community to draw patrons eager to help our homeless, hungry, elderly and very young neighbors in need. For decades, the Potomac Country House Tour has united us annually in this cause.”