Making Mother’s Day extra special for hundreds of guests has been the goal of the Old Escondido Historic District for the last 18 years and the tradition continues this spring, on Sunday, May 10.
During the Mother’s Day Home Tour, doors will open and docents will welcome the public into five historic homes where the interior décor can be admired and a glimpse into local history can be appreciated. This tour sets itself apart from others that are held in the county with a refreshment garden located at one of the featured homes. There, crisp pastel linens and colorful floral arrangements will adorn tables where guests can enjoy tea, lemonade, and an assortment of cookies and other bakery items, all included in the cost of a ticket. While lingering in the garden, each guest will have an opportunity to look over the variety of door prizes donated by local merchants and to choose which one to try to win.
The homes featured on the tour change every year and this year, the oldest home of the five is the Roberts- Hatch House, a lovely Italian-style Victorian built in 1892. This house was at risk of demolition in the early 1990s to make way for a parking lot. Fortunately, the current owners purchased the dilapidated house in the nick of time and lovingly restored it to its original look. Today it’s Century Rose Bed and Breakfast and a showpiece for the neighborhood, with period antiques and an exceptional collection of depression glass. Multiple rose bushes decorate the front yard and provide a theme for the home.
Another home, the Wilty House, is a two-story Craftsman-style bungalow that was built in 1928. It was a “kit home” according to a previous owner. Kit homes included plans, all the cut lumber, nails, fixtures, and even the paint that was needed to build a home and all of it was shipped together to the buyer’s property to build on site. This one was recently remodelled to include all modern amenities alongside period architectural details inside and beautiful new landscaping outside that incorporates century-old Dracaena dracos or “dragon trees” in the front yard.
The Chubbic House is a California Bungalow, related to the Craftsman style, believed to have been built around 1923. This house was originally located on 4th Avenue but it was at risk of being demolished when the property was needed, again for a parking lot. Fortunately, a homeowner with a double lot on 6th Avenue purchased it, and moved it onto his property, thanks to a modification to a city ordinance that now allows historic homes at risk outside the district to be moved onto double lots in Old Escondido. Once the house was moved onto the lot, the master craftsman owner restored it to period detail. It features original hardwood moulding throughout along with the original built-in hutch and desk in the dining room.
The Draper House has an interesting twist in its history; one of the early owners was committed to an insane asylum. He managed to escape, but didn’t get far; hewas captured within 2 days. A persistent fellow, he was able to escape again and that time successfully pleaded his case in court and won his freedom. The house itself has multiple personalities. Built prior to 1907 and one of the first homes on its block, it started as a Victorian cottage as revealed in the original scalloped shingles in the west gable but later modifications, including the front porch, reflect the Craftsman style. A large family room added on to the rear and a nice mix of old and new furnishings make it a delightful place to visit.
Research is underway for the fifth house but visitors will enjoy the English cottage style most likely built in 1932. It features multi-light windows and a rolled-edge roof. The interior has been fully updated for a more modern lifestyle.
Pre-event discounted Home Tour tickets at $20 each are easily purchased on-line through Old Escondido’s web site, www.oldescondido.org or at Major Market, 1855 S. Centre City Parkway and Rosemary-Duff Florist, 101 W. 2nd Ave., through Saturday, May 9. On the day of the event, May 10, only, tickets can be purchased for $25 each at 537 S. Juniper St. Any child under the age of 12 can attend at no charge with a paying adult. Each ticket entitles the bearer to a lovely 24-page full color program that includes photographs of interiors and exteriors of the homes as well as historical information.
The Mother’s Day Home Tour also marks National Historic Preservation Month. The funds raised during the event are used to further the Old Escondido Historic District’s mission “to promote and protect Old Escondido, the city’s oldest neighborhood – and North San Diego County’s only Historic District. Indeed, this is the neighborhood where Escondido’s founding families lived and started the town that would eventually evolve into the thriving city it is today. Old Escondido extends from 5th Avenue to 13th and Escondido Blvd. to Chestnut. Wide tree-lined streets give a Midwest feel – as intended by the savvy developers in the late 19th century, to lure Midwesterners west to the “Hidden Vale.” Streets even bore the names of Midwest states although the street names changed to numbered streets to simplify mail delivery in the thirties. The state names are still part of the neighborhood, however, as they were formed into original concrete curbs and sidewalks where they can still be seen today. Curbs also sport original horse rings that allowed horses to be tethered at their destinations.
Living in Escondido’s oldest neighborhood and North County’s only established Historic District, many homeowners take great pride in maintaining the historic integrity of the interiors as well as the exteriors of their homes. It’s not easy – or inexpensive – matching century-old tile or stripping layers of paint or finding period-appropriate appliances, but it’s well worth the effort.
For more information about the Old Escondido Historic District and the Mother’s Day Home Tour, visit their Web site at www.oldescondido.org or call 760-291-7206. Keeping up with the times, Old Escondido is on Facebook, too!