Homes on annual tour offer history, charm and character

April 28, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Carl Sallese and his wife, Beverly, took a trip to the Eastern Panhandle over the weekend after a friend recommended they stay at a bed and breakfast in Charles Town, W.Va.

The Baltimore couple decided to take in the 48th annual House and Garden Tour while they were here.

Neither part of the trip disappointed.

Carl Sallese said he was impressed by the eight historic homes on the tour, especially Mount Ellen, a house in Summit Point, W.Va., that dates back to the 1760s.

The house was used as a hospital and headquarters for Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War and has unique features, including a 10-foot-long fireplace in the kitchen.


"Every room is just dramatic," Sallese said.

The experience at Mount Ellen was enriched by a blacksmith who demonstrated iron-working skills that would have been popular during the time period that the home was built, Sallese said.

And then there was the beauty of the countryside as the couple crisscrossed through Berkeley and Jefferson counties to view the homes.

"It's magnificent. On a day like today, it really shows well," Sallese said as he and his wife prepared to tour the General Adam Stephen House in Martinsburg.

Recent rainy weather gave way to a bright sunny day Sunday, an ideal backdrop for the house tour.

History and gardening buffs toured the Hughes Cunningham house, a two-story log home on Harlan Springs Road near Hedgesville, W.Va., that dates to about 1771. Next is Lavender Hill, a Victorian country home in the Arden, W.Va., area, the Daniels Mill house, a stone house along W.Va. 51 hear Gerrardstown, W.Va., that used to be a gristmill, and Mount Ellen.

Number five on the tour was the Tate-Fairfax-Muse house, an imposing Georgian-style home on Washington Street in Charles Town, followed by the Idle Hour home in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., the Western home in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and the Adam Stephen House.

The tour started 48 years ago to showcase some of the most attractive homes in the area and fund beautification projects, said Lynne Seibert, a member of the steering committee for the Shenandoah-Potomac Garden Council, the organization that sponsors the tour.

People on the tour pay $12 for advance tickets and $15 on the day of the tour. Money from the ticket sales pays for landscaping projects, such as those at the town square in Martinsburg, Seibert said.

The tour is known for its homage to historical homes, but that is not always the highlight, Seibert said.

There are extravagant and unusual gardens at homes in the area, and sometimes that is the attraction at a house, Seibert said.

A house does not have to be historic to be on the tour.

Lavender Hill, for example, was built in 1989. The home was put on the tour to showcase its beautiful gardens, collection of antiques and its picturesque view of North Mountain.

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