Saturday Sept. 17 will mark the return of a venerable Idyllwild tradition, the Idyllwild Area Historical Society (IAHS) Home Tour. Proceeds go to support the IAHS’ mission of preserving and sharing the history of the San Jacinto Mountains.
The Crier spoke with IAHS President Charlotte Groty about this year’s tour and the homes that will be a part of it.
TC: “What is special about this year’s tour?”
CG: “We’re extremely excited; the home tour is our only major fundraiser. The tour is back after a three-year hiatus due to COVID. We haven’t had one since 2019. Our 20th home tour was supposed to be 2020. We had to shut down. This year we are especially excited because three of the five homes that will be open for the tour have been restored to reflect the history of the time period in which they were built.”
Charlotte gave us a bit of the back-story of IAHS. Before 2000, there had been an earlier historical society, but it had no museum and “… eventually it just stopped … Back around the year 2000 ,a group that included Sheila Meyer and Phyllis Clark listened to a panel of old timers talk about their lives in Idyllwild. They suddenly realized that the Idyllwild area was beginning to lose its history as time was passing. In a nutshell, they pulled the town together and within three years we had the Idyllwild Area Historical Society, the Arti-Facts newsletter and our wonderful, award-winning museum. If you want to know the whole story and to see and learn about our history — come visit the museum.”
Once a year after that the society organized a tour of homes with outstanding historic or aesthetic interest. The homes becoming, for a day, museum exhibits. For those who love architecture, history and real estate, or are just nosey, it is a rare chance to see inside these “living artifacts.”
TC: “What about this year’s houses? What stands out?”
CG: “People like to come up to see vintage. The oldest home was built in the 1920s with original flooring, bachelor’s stove, vintage Servel refrigerator and wallpaper that was originally newspaper used for insulation, which they left and sealed. [Now there’s a money-saving redecorating idea!]
“Another is a great example of early Idyllwild architecture with original flooring and a 1930s gas stove that is the heart of this home.
“Our third home, also built in the 1930s, is a 500-square-foot four-room cabin. The owner is very hands-on and with a lot of creativity, restored every inch of this cabin. The kitchen also has a 1930s stove.
“Our fourth is an art-filled contemporary home with the most eye-catching hand carved mantel you will ever see. The owner’s artistry is not restricted to the interior, as she has created an extraordinary back yard using local plants and shrubs. The owners of the fifth house have transformed [a house] they called ‘unremarkable’ into this edgy and innovative home. Many windows were added to enjoy a view that seems to go on and on. The owners utilized their skills and talents in recreating their remarkable home.”
Groty summed it up: “There’s so much more to these homes that will delight, entertain and amaze you, and throughout the tour, you’ll gain an appreciation for all the time, energy and love put into their preservation and upkeep.”
The tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person (cash or check) and can be purchased on the day of the tour at the center of town (in front of the Idyllwild Inn, on Village Center Drive) and at the museum. Only the museum accepts credit cards. Refreshments will be available at the museum, 54470 North Circle Drive, where you can take a break before continuing on with the tour. The tour is self-guided with an easy-to-follow map. For more information call (951) 201-1400.