Homeowners open doors for 11th tour
June 13, 2007
Carole Fontana remembers when weeds sprouted between her shoes in the closet of her Sandridge Avenue home.
When she bought the house in 1972, it measured 500 square feet. She’s been told that the house was built during the 1920s.
"It was a shack," she recalls. "It was rebuilt after the fire of 1898 and they threw up houses quickly and none were built on any foundation for all these years my house stood on two feet of four-by-four-inch posts in dirt."
Fontana’s home will be featured in this Saturday’s 11th Annual Park City Historic Home Tour, but only one original wall is left in her now 1,800-square-foot house.
A major renovation in 1994 was required, Fontana says she wouldn’t have been able to remain at 228 Sandridge. The original walls Fontana tore down were mostly made of dry, rotted cardboard, insulated with rags and old pieces of newspaper that crumbled when touched.
According to the Park City Historical Society and Museum, the original house was home to a Slovakian emigrant and miner, his wife and two children in the 1930s. Like many of Park City’s homes, the museum claims early ownership is unknown because of the clouded chain of title.
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Fontana consulted architects and Park City’s Historic Preservation Board to reconstruct a home that would look "Vernacular Victorian," the term used to identify a non-descript Victorian home that might have been constructed in the 1920s.
"It looks like a historic home, but it isn’t," she said. "I was one of the first known for replicating the look of an old house and I get a historic home ribbon every year."
Such is the lot for many a historic homeowner, who must confront the mortality of decaying materials. Most of the homes that will be visited this weekend some approaching a century old have had more than a nip and tuck.
The homes in this year’s tour will feature those surrounding Rossi Hill, an area east of Main Street that was devastated during the Great Fire of 1898. More than 75 homes, many single-room log cabins, were burned. Those built in their stead were small, simple houses built for a milder climate. At the turn of the 20th Century, Park City received an average of 150 inches of snow annually, according to the museum a far cry from the 300 annual inches recorded in later years.
But unlike Fontana, some owners of the Rossi Hill homes don’t need to rebuild from scratch.
Anita Crane bought her home on 412 Marsac 19 years ago, and she reports that it has only required cosmetic touch-ups. The home was built by Elizabeth Jones with the money left to her by her husband William, a British emigrant and an Ontario Mine Company miner. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Crane furnishes her three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot home with antiques and tends to lilacs in her yard.
"I think we preserved the house as much as possible with respect to the way it was and I think that’s really important, instead of adding on to it and making it big like everything else in Park City," she said. "I love this house. It’s part of me and part of who I am."
An author of architecture books and an artist, Crane says her home environment that is reflected in what she writes and draws.
"I have sold paintings of historical houses on my store on Main Street," she said. "I love historic homes I think they’re the jewels of Park City."
According to Julie Hopkins, a long-time Historical Society board member, the upcoming tour will feature 16 homes on Marsac, Ontario and Sandridge. Homes on the tour are featured for a variety of reasons and some have been restored, while others haven’t. Each has its own story.
"One of my favorite things about the tour is the history of the home and the stories of the people that live there," she says. "That’s one of the things that I think is so unique to Park City we have such depth to our history and about the people and where they came from."
What: The Park City Historic Home Tour. The annual self-guided tour features 16 historic homes hosted by homeowners and historians.
Where: Sandridge, Ontario and Marsac streets
When: Saturday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
How much: $15 in advance at the Park City History Museum at 528 Main Street. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event for $20 at 445 Marsac Avenue. Call 649-7457. Tickets to the reception and awards ceremony at Zoom on Main Street are $35 a piece.