Organizers of the Historic Interior Home Tour in Albany keep the destinations a secret until the morning of the event. This year, on July 30, tour goers were able to see inside storied, century-old residences and downtown lofts.
A Foursquare house, as the name implies, is a boxy architectural style with four large rooms on two levels. The practical and modestly adorned dwelling was an attractive alternative to ornate Victorian-era homes with gingerbread siding and small rooms.
The Foursquare was made even more popular with mail-order retailer Sears, Roebuck and Co. offering it among its 370 house plans and building kits that were shipped by rail to the site.
The current owners of the property spent five years restoring the interior. The house was converted into a triplex in the 1960s and was also used as the headquarters for Albany-based Chamberlin House, an organization serving adults with disabilities.
Metal railing along the stairs to the wide covered front porch has been replaced with classic wood balusters befitting the home’s traditional architecture.
The front door opens to living and dining rooms with high ceilings, which have been re-plastered. Original fixtures, that are at least 114 years old, were refinished, and eight layers of floor coverings were pulled up to reveal gleaming planks of Douglas fir.
Artisans and woodworkers recreated elements that were missing or too damaged to repair. Two nine-foot-tall columns linked to a wood beam were made to replace the decorative divider that once separated the entry and living room from the dining room.
Baseboards and picture railings were restored by hand. Five-panel doors and period hardware that were discarded decades ago were replaced with period pieces.
A finished daylight basement, with two entrances, seating area and second kitchen, brings the total living space of the house to 3,100 square feet.
An exterior staircase to access the former second-story rental unit and other additions were removed, and the yard, which had been paved for parking, is now greenery and a garden.
The versatile property offers “great livability for almost every buyer,” says listing agent Jessica Pankratz of Town & Country Realty. “To me, the gorgeous kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s large enough for families to cook together and when they entertain, guests can mingle with the hosts.”
The house has five bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Albany’s Historic Interior Home Tour is a fundraiser for the 1849 Monteith House, an authentically restored pioneer-era residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house museum is open to the public.
This is the 43rd consecutive year the home tour has been held, according to Kim Jackson of the Albany Visitors Association.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021, the event was held outside. Homeowners decorated their porches and yards, and photos of the interiors were displayed.
This year, five houses and two urban lofts, as well as historic museums, a church and the Carnegie-funded library, were open to ticket holders ($15). Here are highlights:
1878 Queen Anne: Pierce House has two front porches bookended with cupolas and supported by classic pillars. The Victorian-era residence has fish-scale shingles and other ornamental details. Stained glass windows create prisms of light, and door trims are edged with bullseye and flower-motif corners.
1885 Italianate cottage: Ketchum House is a single-story structure that was lifted in the 1940s to excavate the ground to create a basement. Steps to the detailed front door are set at the corner where both sides of the covered porch meet. Above three exterior doors are transom windows that draw in natural light.
1908 Craftsman bungalow: Goodwin House, inspired by the anti-industrial Arts and Crafts movement, has exposed beams and other woodwork made of Douglas fir. The floors are quarter-sawn oak.
1922 workman’s cottage: Talbert House’s fir floors have been refinished and the light switches are original, push-button style.
1929 loft: The Howard Building, designed by architect Charles Burggraf with brick walls, has a top-floor loft. A 1935 addition in a space with a lowered floor resulted in the “Ball Room” with a 17-foot-tall ceiling and large windows at two ends.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072