A Bicentennial House and Garden Tour will be taking place as part of Fredonia's Victorian Dazzle Festival. The self-guided tour, which includes seven historic homes and buildings in Fredonia, is Friday, July 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nature of the event allows visitors to tour the sites in any order they choose.
Tickets are on sale through the 1891 Fredonia Opera House. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m. Call 679-1891. Tickets also can be purchased online at www.fredopera.org.
The sites include:
The SUNY Fredonia Fenner House, 178 Central Ave.
n Brookside Manor Bed & Breakfast and Gardens, 3728 Route 83
Brookside Manor was built ca. 1875-1877 as the family home of the 1866 town of Pomfret Supervisor Horace White. Designed by Fredonia architect Enoch A. Curtis, with more than 6,200 square feet of living space on the two main floors, the house is a fine example of Victorian Gothic architecture. The house was adaptively restored as a bed and breakfast in 1995 by the current owners, Andrea Andrews and Dale Mirth. The 5 1/2 acres of grounds provide a flourish of spring color, summer flowers and fall foliage. The garden beds are next to the home, and a short walk will lead to a babbling brook.
n Boo and Carter Rowland's Home, 4587 West Main Road
It's "Christmas in July!" at the Rowland home, as Boo has left her many holiday decorations in place for this tour. In addition to the home's features, pay close attention to the various Nativity sets collected from the Rowlands' world travels and the painstakingly decorated Christmas trees. This elaborate example of the square villa form was built sometime between 1861 and 1868 and was originally part of a vineyard operated by Daniel Fairbanks.
n Alberto and Janeil Rey's Home and Artist Studio, 211 Chestnut St.
The brick house on the corner of Risley and Chestnut is an example of Italianate architecture, as evidenced by the overhanging eaves, decorative brackets, hooded arched windows and projecting bay windows in the dining room. Originally built in 1868 for George W. Lewis, a local Fredonia merchant, the house has long been rumored as a site of the Underground Railroad, but the date of construction seems to belie this often repeated story. However, it is possible that the barn was built earlier and served in this capacity. Much of the house is original, including the cucumber wood floors, hand-painted faux woodgrain in the front entryway stair case, and the leaded glass windows in the library.
The three-story barn next to the house serves as a painting studio for Alberto, where he produces both large oil paintings and intimate watercolors, which can be found in museum collections around the country. Visitors will have the opportunity to visit the studio, see works in progress and purchase original pieces and prints. A portion of the proceeds from any sale will be donated to the Fredonia Opera House.
(To visit, the next two sites, park on the SUNY Fredonia campus across from Thompson Hall.)
n SUNY Fredonia Found-ation House, 272 Central Ave.
This neo-colonial style home was originally built in fall 1918 for Daniel and Hildegard Lathrop. Daniel was an executive with the Atlas Steel Corp. of Dunkirk. In 1923, the Lathrops sold the property to J. Nelson van der Voort, who added the rear section of the home in 1933. Serving as a Senior Honors Home for female students in the 1960s, the home was privately owned before its purchase by the Fredonia College Foundation in 2004. The foundation has maintained the original Georgian mansion feel of the home's interior. Enter the building through the east side entryway directly off the parking lot.
n SUNY-Fredonia Fenner House, 178 Central Ave.
This Gothic cottage was originally built in 1868 by Robert Wolfers, a local brick-layer and contractor. Although the house burned in 1871, it was soon rebuilt and later became the residence of Dr. M.M. Fenner, the noted Fredonia doctor whose patent medicine became so popular. The structure was again beset by fire in 1979, but was restored and renovated by SUNY Fredonia for use as its admissions office. The front entrance vestibule and parlor were decorated by the wife of former SUNY Fredonia president Dallas Beal; and many of the college staff and faculty have contributed their time and energy to its maintenance and landscaping.
n Fredonia Baptist Church, corner of Church and Temple streets
The original settlers in Pomfret were Baptists and began meeting as early as 1805. However, their formal organization as the "First Baptist Church in Pomfret" began in 1808.
The original church was a wood structure erected on this site in 1823. But by the late 1840s, a new brick building was desired and construction began on the current building. In 1852, the building's architect, John Jones, was fatally injured in a fall from scaffolding, but work continued until the building opened in July 1853.
Interior renovations in 1913 and a restoration in 2003 yielded the building as you see it today. The 2003 restoration included a newly renovated steeple with a new clock and clock faces. On your visit, enjoy live music played on the church's 1876 pipe organ from 1 to 2 p.m. Refreshments also will be served to tour ticket holders throughout the tour.
n 1891 Fredonia Opera House, inside Village Hall
Once the cultural center of early Fredonia, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House was rehabilitated by the Fredonia Preservation Society starting in 1985. It would be 1994 before it was reopened. The restoration was entirely a grassroots effort, with citizens raising more than $1 million in local funds and volunteering more than 30,000 man hours of labor. Today, the Opera House seats 444 and is Chautauqua County's only year-round performing arts center.