Martinez Historical Society to hold 2018 Home Tour, Oct. 13

Here is a rare example of a French Norman -- or French Normandy -- home.
Here is a rare example of a French Norman — or French Normandy — home. There has never been an example of this historic style on the Home Tour. French Norman was one of the revival home styles that was popular between World War I and World War II. However, it was built in far fewer numbers than the more widespread Tudor Revival style. A typical French Norman feature is a tower with a conical roof through which one enters the house. (MARTINEZ HISTORICAL SOCIETY / COURTESY)

The houses on this year’s tour are in two clusters. The first is near Martinez Junior High School, a Spanish Revival structure built in 1931. The second grouping of homes is to the Southeast, near the 80 acres that formerly was the site of the Christian Brothers’ Novitiate and Winery prior to 1932, when the Order moved to Napa.

Docents will be available to greet tour-goers at each home, and at many of the homes, musicians will provide entertainment.

One home represents the first time a French Norman or French Normandy home has been included in the Home Tour.

French Norman was one of the revival home styles popular between World War I and World War II. But it was built in fewer numbers than the more widespread Tudor Revival style.

A Typical French Norman features a tower with conical roof through which one enters the home. The home on the tour was build in 1929, and its current owners, Karen and Nick Burcher, have worked hard to restore it.

Another rarity is a home built during World War II. Few homes were built in those years, but one Martinez home built in 1943 is an exception. While it has a simple look to its exterior, inside it has been updated by its current owner, Kathleen Grimoldi, who downsized from an Alhambra Valley estate home and has attractively appointed the interior of her house.

Also on the tour is a 1924 bungalow that has some Spanish Revival elements, such as an arched entrance to the porch and medallions on either side of the entrance. Another arch with a swag is above the front window. Fernando and Lisa Villalba have landscaped the area with cactus and succulents and have used terra cotta planters to continue the Spanish theme. They’ve added the modern touch of a productive solar power system, but incorporated it so it isn’t visible from the street.

Another house is a California Ranch Style house painted in Tuscan colors with a mural on its side yard. Owned by Patty McLoughlin, an interior decorator, and Tim McLoughlin, a contractor, the house represents an appealing retro-style that hasn’t been on the Home Tour before.

A 1929 Storybook Style home will give participants a chance to see a house that resembles cottages described in childhood stories. This home, designed by Bay Area architect Walter W. Dixon, was on the Home Tour eight years ago, and has returned under new ownership, Zoe Ann Carpenter, who has added to its Storybook character and decorated the house with antique furniture. Repeat visitors will notice the change in the front cottage garden that has given the home a changed look.

This year’s public building is St. Catherine of Siena Church and School, where docents stationed at both building will share the history of the structures. The church is a stucco building built in 1940 to replace the previous wood-frame structure that was built in 1868. Its Gothic-ceiling sanctuary has an array of stained glass windows, many of which were donated by Martinez families and organizations. The church also has a collection of statuary in its building.

St. Catherine of Siena Parochial School will welcome visitors to classrooms, where they can speak with parents and teachers. The school has been in operation since 1949, and is considered highly regarded and well-certified, with small class sizes that allow for plenty of teacher-pupil interaction.

Besides homes, tour participants will get to see antique and classic automobiles parked in front of several of the homes. These vintage vehicles have been donated for the occasion by their owners, some of whom are members of area car clubs. Paul Kraintz, who owns an antique car himself, organizes the cars for the Home Tour.

The tour starts at the Shell Clubhouse, 1635 Pacheco Blvd., where there is plenty of parking and restrooms inside. Water and coffee will be served. The clubhouse itself is a 1937 building with an Arts and Crafts interior or natural wood.

Historic displays will be set up in the Shell Clubhouse for the trip. This year, the theme is Jack London, the California author. London, a San Francisco native, was a noted figure in the Bay Area, and used his experience with oyster pirates as the basis of his book, “Tales of the Fish Patrol,” which describes adventures in the Bay Area and along the Carquinez Strait.

London gained national and international fame as the author of such novels as “The Call of the Wild,” published in 1903, and “White Fang,” published in 1906.

Also present in the Clubhouse that day will be the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society, which will have members available to advise those interested in finding their ancestors. Visitors also may tour the nearby Shell Oil Museum that has displays depicting the history of oil refining in Martinez, dating from when the local refinery was built in 1915.

The Diablo Regional Concert Band, originally formed in 1910 as Martinez Liberty Band, will be performing at the Clubhouse, selecting numbers in the theme “Strike Up The Band.”

Also open for the tour will be the Martinez Museum, 1005 Escobar St., home of the Martinez Historical Society, which will have an exhibit, “Politics and Patriots,” in anticipation of the November general election.

Included in the exhibit will be a photograph of the presidential candidate and future president John F. Kennedy making a whistle-stop during his train tour of the United States in 1960.

Those interested in seeing more of Martinez’s history on their own after taking the home tour also may visit the John Muir National Historic Site, 4202 Alhambra Ave., to see the John Muir Home, an 1883 Italianate Victorian mansion where the environmentalist lived with his family when he wasn’t wandering in wilderness areas. Muir died in 1914.

Also open to visitors of the historic site will be the 1849 Vicente Martinez adobe, a Monterey style adobe that predates California’s statehood. It is home to the largest existing display on the 1775-1776 De Anza Expedition that founded the presidio and mission of San Francisco.

Advance tickets are available at the Martinez Historical Society Booth at the Sunday Farmers Market on Main Street are $20. Advance tickets also are available for $25 through Eventbrite,, and the Martinez Home Tour site, Tickets will be available the day of the tour for $30.

Those taking the tour may park at the Shell Clubhouse and take shuttle vans to the homes. The shuttles will be traveling along the tour route throughout the day, so participant may departing the van to see individual homes, then pick up the next van to travel to the next stop.

Participants also may take their own vehicles to the tour areas and use the vans to visit individual homes.

Those with questions may call or text Carolyn Duncan, 925-864-8457.

The Martinez Historical Society 2018 Home Tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, starting at the Shell Clubhouse.

One Reply to “Martinez Historical Society to hold 2018 Home Tour, Oct. 13”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *