From an Italianate Victorian built in 1893, to modern homes on the cutting edge of environmentally friendly design, Sunday’s Falls Church Home and Garden Tour will not only give ticketholders a chance to see a sampling of Falls Church’s unique homes and gardens, but will also allow them to take part in a fundraiser to benefit the City’s elementary school children.
“There’s something for everyone on the tour,” said April Rollins, president of the Falls Church Elementary PTA. “We are excited to present a mix of historic and new homes, representing different eras and sensibilities. That variety is very typical of Falls Church City, and we hope that everyone on the tour will appreciate the span of styles and all that our ‘Little City’ has to offer.”
The self-guided tour begins at noon and runs through 4 p.m. Sunday, rain or shine. After picking up tickets at Mount Daniel School, available beginning at 11 a.m., tour-goers will be given a booklet providing them with a map and more information about the six homes and two gardens that will be featured on the tour, and are invited to visit the homes and gardens at their leisure.
In addition to the Victorian house and two eco-friendly modern homes, the tour features stops at a house built from a Sears modular kit with a storied civil rights history, a Colonial Revival, and a renovated shingle-style cottage from the 19th century.
While gardens at some of these properties will be open to visitors, two gardens will be featured on the tour – one, a private garden near Cherry Hill Park showcasing plants native to Virginia, and the other Frady Park, the site of the first Arbor Day celebrated in Falls Church in 1892, which features gardens that are the work of several volunteers in the community. All but one of the properties – just over the border into Arlington County – are located within Falls Church City.
Planning for the fourth biannual began last fall. Volunteers scouted potential properties to be included on the tour, and requests, too, came in from homeowners eager to take part in the fundraiser.
“Homeowners that we have this year are fabulous,” said Nancy Romps, who with Rollins and Bonnie Games serves as the steering committee of the tour. “They’ve been so accommodating, and I think that in order to get to the point that you are willing to have your house on display, you have to be a generous person who loves your home and is proud of your home.”
PTA members have volunteered to serve as docents in the homes and gardens, leading participants through the spaces and highlighting their special and, in some cases, historic traits. At some homes, though, the homeowner has asked to be present to offer insights to those taking part in the tour.
Two stops along the tour will give participants a more theatrical experience, as period-costumed reenactors from the Victorian Society at Falls Church will be the docents at one Victorian-era house, and actors will portray the original homeowners at the Sears kit house.
The tour is the Falls Church Elementary PTA’s largest fundraiser. In past years, the event has brought in anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, through tickets sales as well as ad sales and sponsorships. Funds raised will go toward Falls Church City’s public elementary schools, and the PTA hopes to use this year’s proceeds to contribute to outdoor classrooms at Mount Daniel School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. The outdoor classrooms provide children with hands-on learning opportunities in nature.
Supporting this year’s tour as the title sponsor is Fall Properties. The tour’s premier sponsors are the Falls Church-News Press, Metro Green, The Gaskins Team, Moore Architects, Thoughtful Development, Cunningham Quill Architects, Greenbuilt Homes and Coupard Architects.
This year’s tour planners harnessed the power of the web, utilizing social media and, as a new feature this year, offering online ticket sales through the tour’s website – a step up from the flyer-in-bookbag method of tours past. Romps says selling tickets online has allowed the PTA to garner interest in the event from outside the Falls Church community.
While it’s too soon to tell how much money the tour will bring in, as tickets are still on sale, advance ticket sales numbers show the tour may have the PTA’s biggest attendance since it started in 2006.
Tickets for the Falls Church Home and Garden Tour are $25 and can be purchased online at fallschurchpta.org/hgtour.html. A limited number of tickets can also be purchased on the day of the tour at the ticket pick-up site, Mount Daniel School, 2328 N. Oak St., Falls Church.