The Carmel House and Garden Tour has been a treat for almost 30 years, but this time visitors will tour not five, but 10 Carmel houses. The oldest, the First Murphy House on the northwest corner of Lincoln and 6th, was built in 1903; the newest, The “Arch” House on 7th Avenue four homes up from Forest, was finished in 2011.
This abundance comes via a new partnership with the Monterey Bay chapter of the American Institute of Architects, a co-sponsor of the event. “The architects,” as they’re called at the Heritage Society, arranged for more contemporary houses to be displayed, balancing out the older houses that have long been the tour’s specialty.
“So far there has been a nice synergy and a lot of excitement on both sides,” Linda Jaffe, executive director of the Carmel Heritage Society, says of AIA Monterey Bay. “The dynamics of the exhibit changed over the last few years. What we are seeing is a lot of people coming from the Bay Area… Younger people who are attracted to the aesthetic and architecture of Carmel.”
The tour is set up chronologically, guiding visitors through the span of the last 100 years of American architecture, and a huge range of styles, all within one square mile. The pearl of the day is a Frank Lloyd Wright house at Martin Way – “His second most-famous house,” says Heritage Society President Thomas Bateman Hood. “And the only one on the Pacific coast.”
For Bateman Hood, the magic of the tour is its insight into how people live.
“We are social people here in Carmel,” he says. “It’s not so much about being in the house, it’s about being in town. No lights, no mail delivery; it was all intentional. It forces you to go out, brings people together. But there has always been the question: How do people live after they go home?”
The same curiosity drives the volunteer docents who help to run the event. Volunteers also wonder: Are they allowed to use Mrs. Murphy’s restroom? The answer to this is no.
“You are friendly traffic operators,” says Heritage Society board member Cathy Collum, who oversees the event. “Just remember, don’t stay too long after your shift. Come have red wine and something to eat.”
THE 27TH ANNUAL CARMEL HOUSE AND GARDEN TOUR takes place from 1-5pm Saturday, Sept 25. $30/members; $35/in advance; $45/day of. All tickets include a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception at First Murphy House from 4-6pm. 624-4447, carmelheritage.org