Art and holiday adornments get equal billing when the 26th Westport Holiday House Tour & Twilight Soiree does something it has never done before.
On Sunday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Westport Historical Society tour will feature five homes -- historic to modernist -- that celebrate the town's rich heritage as an arts colony. All will be decorated for the holidays.
Dorothy E. Curran, event chair, noted that the annual tour is a major fund-raiser for the society, which helps support its research, gallery shows and historic Wheeler House headquarters. Curran said that the timing was right for an arts and decorations tour because the once-popular artist's studio tours have not been presented for a few years in Westport.
Also the tour's theme ties in nicely, said Curran, with the WHS' current exhibition, "U.S. Postage Stamps by Westport Artists," which features 164 designs, produced from 1959 to 1998, by 17 artists, including the legendary Stevan Dohanos.
At each tour stop, visitors will be given a shoe bag and asked to remove and carry their shoes to prevent mussing interiors; photography will not be permitted, nor will children under 12.
The tour, which runs "snow or shine," will be followed from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. by a Twilight Soiree wine-tasting and silent auction in a sixth home (an expanded farmhouse that dates to 1790). Separate tickets will be required.
In addition, Westport's historic 19th-century one-room schoolhouse, Adams Academy, also will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Here is an overview of the five houses on the tour (directions and addresses are provided with tickets):
Modern Home, Gallery, Studio and Sculpture Garden
"Nestled on a north-facing hillside with splendid sculpture garden and brook views from the dining room and deck, this 1986 modernist homestead's 2006 renovation is a triumphant melding of geometric and industrial form with family, social and studio function.
"Abundant natural light, reflective metals and earth-toned wood and stone provide neutral background to the artist's exuberant and richly hued multi-media assemblages. Caution: serious artists may experience serious studio envy."
1764 Saltbox Home and Studio
"Dating to 1764, the Eliphalet Sturges saltbox farmhouse, a cherished Westport landmark, saw 2,000 British troops march by in the Revolution, saw automobiles replace horses and carriages, and, in 1908, welcomed George Hand Wright, one of the first artists to buy an abandoned Westport farm and help establish Westport's artist colony. The current owner, Wright's godson, preserves the legacy of this painter, illustrator, printmaker ... and National Academy of Design honoree."
1806 Manor with Modern Art
"Originally an 1806 farmhouse on 250 acres owned by Morris Ketchum, then expanded in 1957 as a gracious Colonial revival manor, replete with authentic period crown moldings and Delft fireplace tiles, this grand residence today also comprises a three-car garage, carriage house and studio. With surprising and delightful success, the owners, a concert pianist and an artist, celebrate the ornate interior millwork, wall coverings and scale with remarkable temporary and permanent collections of art and found objects."
Ranch Features River Views
"Every artist's work reflects choices about positive (filled) and negative (empty) space. Likewise, this master artist has filled her custom 1970 home and studio, overlooking the Saugatuck River, with an abundant variety and scope of artwork: her own, and that of others, including family and students. Collectively, it is a flowing narrative of a loving family and the odyssey of a creative soul, from technical proficiency in representational drawing and painting to mastery of abstract painting and sculptural forms."
Riverfront Log Lodge
"Sited on the Saugatuck River ford crossed by 2,000 British troops in 1777 (with American Major Benedict Arnold in hot pursuit), this vintage European-style log hunting lodge was built by a Swedish woman in 1914, just before World War I. First owner was Arthur Dolge, the embalming fluid manufacturer; (followed by) the Fairfield County Hunt Club; Broadway producer Philip Dunning; and Jackie Gleason's manager, Herb Rosenthal. Since 1976, it has been home to an ingenious and prolific interior designer and her family. (Their) splendid Christmas tree showcases a 45-year-old ornament collection."
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Holiday House Tour & Twilight Soiree tickets: www.westporthistory.org. Tour tickets $55 on Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place. "Twilight Soiree" tickets sold separately; $50 each.