Whether you like Queen Anne, Victorian, Colonial Revival or American Four Square, Buffalo offers a remarkable array of these and other architectural styles. You can observe them from the street, of course, but when there’s an opportunity to view the interiors, hundreds of people come knocking.
Here are three urban tours of older homes to check out: the Historic Linwood Home Tour (May 15), the Parkside Tour of Homes (May 22) and the Twilight Tour of Homes (June 16).
These private residences and unique properties are sure to intrigue and inspire you, whether you’re looking to restore your own home, pick a new color palette, remodel a kitchen, refresh your home’s decorative accessories or increase curb appeal (even before you can gather even more ideas when garden tour season kicks off throughout the region). Of course you’ll learn a bit of history, too, about the neighborhood and the architects as well as some compelling stories about the houses and the people who have lived in them.
Note: Tours will be held rain or shine, and tourgoers can make a day of it – walking the neighborhoods, shopping at nearby stores, grabbing a bite from food trucks or restaurants. Wear comfortable shoes, proceed at your own pace and by all means ask questions. Tours like these don’t happen every day.
The Buffalo News photographed rooms in three of the homes to give readers a sneak peek.
Historic Linwood Tour of Homes
This is the seventh biennial tour of homes and properties located in and around the Linwood Historic Preservation District, which includes both sides of Linwood Avenue between North Street and West Delavan, the west side of the West Ferry and Main Street intersection and parts of Delaware Avenue. It is organized by the Linwood Preservation District & Friends.
When: From noon until 5 p.m. May 15
Tickets: For those who did not buy in advance, tickets are available for $25 the day of the tour, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at Artists Group Gallery, 1 Linwood Ave.
Highlights: Ten properties are on this year’s tour, including private homes, apartments, offices and Blessed Sacrament Church. One turn-of-the-century home has been refurbished by Brenda Shaw. The first and second floors will be open.
Highlights include a grand staircase; pocket doors; leaded glass windows; butler’s pantry with ice box; original woven fabric wallcoverings in the dining room; first-floor library with one of five fireplaces on view, and original gas light fixtures that Shaw had wired and reinstalled.
Details: Properties on the tour are located within about a mile. Parking is marked on the map in the guide book. Ticket-holders are asked not to take photos without permission of homeowners. No restriction regarding children but common sense is advised.
Tourgoers on two wheels can make use of the bike paths. Food trucks will be in the neighborhood. Proceeds from ticket sales will help to fund beautification projects such as tree plantings, maintenance of community gardens and more.
See more photos from this Linwood Tour home.
Parkside Tour of Homes
This is the 18th annual tour presented by the Parkside Community Association. Parkside is adjacent to Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware
Park and the Buffalo Zoo.
When: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 22.
Tickets: Presale tickets are $20; $15 for Parkside Community Association members and students (with valid college/student ID) and are available at the PCA offices, 2318 Main St., or online at parksidebuffalo.org.
On tour day, tickets can be purchased on the grounds of the Darwin D. Martin House, 125 Jewett Parkway for $30; $25 for PCA members and students (with valid college/student ID).
Highlights: Eight homes will be on the tour, including the stone structure owned by Judy and Alan Duchan built in a Colonial Revival style. The exterior Onondaga limestone is from a local stone quarry and is the same stone used at the Buffalo Zoo.
Other features of interest include a front rock garden; Auburn Watson kitchen; local art; a collection of masks from all over the world displayed in the living room, and rear doors leading to a back patio and garden.
Details: The tour begins at the Darwin D. Martin house. Most homes will have first floors open, while a few are expected to open their second and third floors. Children need to be 12 or older. No photographs.
Proceeds benefit the work of the Parkside Community Association. Food trucks and rickshaws will be in the neighborhood.
See more photos of this Parkside Tour home.
Twilight Tour of Homes
This year, the Twilight Tour is moving to a new neighborhood – Chapin, Lincoln and Bidwell parkways and Soldiers Place. It is presented by Explore Buffalo and the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.
When: 5 to 9 p.m. June 16.
Tickets: Advance general sales are $35 (until June 11). Advance sales to TR Site members and Explore Buffalo season pass holders are $30 (until June 11). All tickets are $40 week of tour. A VIP ticket package is $75 and includes a pretour gathering with drinks and hors d’oeuvres at Marcy Casino in Delaware Park.
All reservations are made through the TR Site, 884-0095 or trsite.org (where information on guide book pick-up is available).
Highlights: Nine private homes and two condominiums in Melton Manor are expected on this year’s tour. One of the homes is the Victorian owned by Matt and Britta McKenna and built about 1890.
Highlights include an inviting front porch; a gray living/dining room combination with striking pillars and bold window treatment; a sun porch/family room; an updated kitchen that opens to a more casual dining area, and very cool lighting fixtures throughout.
Details: This is a walkable tour; free parking is along the parkways. Tour headquarters is Buffalo Seminary, 205 Bidwell Parkway, which will also be open for viewing. No interior photography is allowed in the homes on the tour. The Twilight Tour benefits the programming of the TR Site and Explore Buffalo, both non-profit organizations.
See more photos of this Twilight Tour home.