BY KRISSI HUMBARD — Spring in Hyattsville brings warmer weather, flowering trees and the chance to peek into some of the lovely homes and gardens in the city. The Historic Hyattsville House Tour is a beloved city tradition that allows visitors an inside look at the late 1800s and early 1900s houses that line our city streets.
This year will be the 37th year that the Hyattsville Preservation Association (HPA) has organized the event. The houses – and one garden – on this year’s tour are as diverse as the homeowners themselves. There are Victorians, bungalows and an art garden. The owners include musicians, an art conservator and sculptor, analysts, government employees, teachers, even a beekeeper.
“It’s an eclectic group of people,” said Gloria Felix-Thompson, president of the HPA. “It’s what I love about this town.”
The self-guided tour will feature eight homes of various styles and periods including a “Quartet of Victorians.” Tour-goers will receive an informative booklet with a map showing the sites on the day of the tour. Houses are within walking distance and may be seen in any order at visitor’s own pace. The City of Hyattsville also provides a bus that continuously circles the tour route.
For some homeowners, being a part of the house tour is a chance to show off changes and improvements they’ve made to their home.
Pete and Jessica Daniels moved into their 1938 Colonial bungalow last June. The house is one of only a few in Hyattsville that has a stone façade. The Daniels said the house was a bit dated when they moved in and needed a kitchen re-work.
“We’ve given it a lot of TLC,” said Jessica Daniels, adding that the kitchen looked like it was out of the 1983 Cyndi Lauper music video for “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”
James Heilig and Laura Brewer-Heilig, who have lived in their Victorian style house since 1983, are participating in the house tour for the fourth time and say they are excited to show off the front porch, the upgraded kitchen and the energy efficient upgrades to the home.
“The house is very energy efficient with the addition of insulation, the radiator heat, gas logs in the fireplace, and the solar panels (on the roof),” Laura Brewer-Heilig said.
Others just want to show off the charming details of their historic homes.
Sharon and Dale Crowell, who moved into a mid-1890s Victorian with large porches about 15 months ago, say they always loved the historic homes in Hyattsville. They decided to join the tour this year because they say there is “a good amount of curiosity about the home.”
The Crowells say they love many things about their home, including the porches, the sunsets visible from their hilltop, the original windows and the “quirky details.”
“There is a really interesting mid-century Chambers gas oven in the kitchen that catches many people’s eye. We only use it for storage, but it sure can be a conversation piece,” Dale Crowell said.
Kaye Stauder, who has lived in her Dutch Colonial since 1978, says she loves the charm and character that an older home offers.
“I’m happy to share my home. I have some unique antiques and I love my kitchen and sun room. I raised my family here and there are many happy memories in every room,” Stauder said.
The garden included on the house tour this year is something you won’t want to miss. Clarke Bedford is an art conservator who worked at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden for 33 years. He has decorated his 1918 bungalow, yard and cars with sculptures made primarily of metal he sources locally. He uses repurposed automotive parts, scrap metal, vintage signage, ceramics, as well as other materials to create his “eclectic, deliberately cluttered, layered, and stacked” sculptures.
Bedford said he suspects he was approached to join the tour because his “art house” and “art cars” are “not the usual fare.”
“It is always fascinating to us how different, and unique, the homes are in the City of Hyattsville,” said Laura Brewer-Heilig.
The 37th Annual Historic Hyattsville House Tour will take place on Sunday, May 15 from 1-5 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 the day of the tour. Advance tickets can be purchased at Franklin’s Restaurant. Visit www.preservehyattsville.org/tours for more information.