Today's the big day: The Westport Historical Society's annual Holiday House Tour and Twilight Soirée are a stylish way to usher in the holiday season.

The event, which takes place regardless of the weather, is a room-by-room, guided tour of five Westport homes. The tours are set today (Sunday, Dec. 5) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. by the Twilight Soirée, which features wine, hors d'oeuvres, music and a silent auction.

Also today, in conjunction with the 175th anniversary of Westport's incorporation as a town, the historical society will host free public open houses-- from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- both at its Bradley-Wheeler House (tour ticket headquarters and site of the "Putting Westport on the Map" and "Zooming in on Westport" exhibits) at 25 Avery Place, and at Westport's historic Adams Academy, a 19th-century one-room schoolhouse at on 15 Morningside Drive North.

The 2010 house tour offers a diverse selection of architectural and interior-design styles, augmented by holiday decorations, floral and tabletop designs, all described by docents.

"We're very excited about the houses on this year's tour and the stories behind them," Dorothy Curran, the Westport Historical Society president, said in a statement. "One of the homes won a preservation award ten years ago, but has continued to improve. Antique lovers will adore the interior décor -- antique English furnishings matched to the 1840 year of original construction, and kitchen cabinets made from attic floorboards.

"Another Queen Anne-style home won awards for new construction. Using sumptuous patterns and textures, old and new, and a bit of dry humor, the interior designer reinterprets high Victorian style for today's tastes. By contrast, we have another more recent renovation, near Compo Beach, is a triumph of maximizing views, serenity and casual comfort within the constraints of zoning and FEMA," she said.

At the Twilight Soirée, violinist Gabriela Stastny will entertain as guests sample wine and hors d'oeuvres, and bid on silent auction items.

The five featured Westport homes include:

"¢ 1840 Greek Revival transformed into an 1877 Italiante: Some of Westport's prosperous Victorian-era homeowners renovated their "dated" Colonials or Greek Revivals by expanding and encasing them in Italianate facades and rooflines. The Historical Society's own 1795 Bradley-Wheeler House is one example; this 1840 Jesse Bradley house is another.

"¢ Queen Anne Revival: This custom-built, award-winning 2002 Queen Anne Revival house melds Victorian style with modern kitchen, bath and lifestyle amenities.

"¢ Compo Beach haven: Serenity and clean lines characterize the floor plan and décor of this 2008 FEMA-compliant renovation of a 1928 cottage steps from Compo Beach.

"¢ Connecticut country retreat: Stone walls, long setback and holiday greenery set a seasonal mood for this 1930s Colonial Revival house and guest cottage.

"¢ Riverfront "smart" house: Sited on a knoll by a branch of the Saugatuck River, this new shingle-style house integrates geothermal "smart" technology with its woodland surroundings.

Tour-goers will be asked to remove their shoes when entering each home. Photography inside the homes is not permitted, nor are children younger than 12. Ticket forms are available at the Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place, or at www.westporthistory.org. Tour-goers may pick up tickets at the historical society through today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All sales are final.

On the day of the event, all tour tickets are $55.

The Twilight Soirée, including wine, hors d'oeuvres and silent auction, requires an additional $50 ticket.

Ticket information for both fundraisers is available at www.westporthistory.org, or by calling the Westport Historical Society at 203-222-1424.