Nancy and Christopher Gilbert used to walk up and down the streets of downtown Mesa many evenings when their two children were still toddlers, pushing them in strollers and admiring the many old houses in their neighborhood.
Nancy Gilbert used to wonder what it would be like to live in a house on North Robson in particular. When it went up for sale, they put a bid on it and, to their delight, became the proud owners of the Craftsman-style bungalow.
That was 28 years ago, and the Gilberts have since made the house their home, although they’ve changed very little about the historic abode, constructed in around 1911.
“It’s an old house, and it has so much history and charm. It has personality and warmth,” Gilbert says. “I just love it.”
Living in an old house has its ups and downs. For instance, the wood-framed windows with original glass panes don’t control the temperature as well as a modern window.
“It can get really hot upstairs in the summer,” Gilbert says. But, in all, the Gilberts love all the details in the house, like the big front porch, 1940s-style kitchen cabinets and oven, and large wood-burning fireplace.
The house is one of nine in the Evergreen historic district of Mesa that will be showcased as part of the Mesa Historic Home Tour this year. The 1896 Sirrine House Museum and the Antique Wedding House also are included in the event. The tour, in its seventh year, aims to introduce people to the history and heritage of Mesa, according to tour organizers.
Lisa Anderson, the president and CEO of the Mesa Historic Museum, says that each year the city chooses a different historic neighborhood for the tour.
“No one thing ties the homes together this year,” she says. “There are a variety of architectural styles that are part of the tour. There are a couple of bungalows, a ranch, a Tudor revival.”
Mesa established guidelines for historic preservation of homes in 1994, Anderson says, “to help preserve the historical structures in the city.” The tour is meant to show off the work that has been done and to help people learn about Mesa’s roots.
What some people will be surprised to learn on the tour, though, is that the guidelines apply only to the exteriors and structural design of the home. The interiors, Anderson says, can be quite different from the style of the home as visible from the sidewalk.
The tour is self-paced and will begin at 11 a.m. Museum staff and volunteers will be stationed at each home to talk about the history and characteristics of the different locations. Visitors have until 4 p.m. to view the homes, as well as have lunch, dessert and see the live entertainment and exhibits at the historic museum.
“We designed the tour in a big circle,” Anderson says. “Everything is within a few blocks of everything else.”
Mesa Historic Home Tour
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $20 tickets can be bought at Mesa Historical Museum, 2345 N. Horne; Domestic Bliss, 166 W. Main St. No. 104, Mesa; and Antique Wedding House, 307 E. First St., Mesa.
Ticket purchase includes a lunch buffet at RigaTony’s in Mesa, entrance to the grand opening of the “Searching for Mesa” exhibit at the Mesa Historical Museum, dessert bar at the Mesa Historical Museum, live entertainment and souvenir book and map to locations.
Information: (480) 835-7358 or www.mesaaz.org