Doors — and pocketbooks — open for orchestra’s sake

Photo by Jennifer Rubino
This Highland Avenue residence hosted a dessert tasting during ‘A Tour of Notable Homes.’

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s not every day that residents allow tourists into their homes.

But on Saturday, May 13, four homeowners in Westfield did just that in support of The Friends of New Jersey Festival Orchestra, a fundraising arm of the New Jersey Festival Orchestra. It was a treat for people who love grand homes, and for families looking for a special way to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend. The houses featured were a 19th-century charmer with many architectural details, a Mediterranean-style villa, a Colonial filled with vibrant color and a professionally decorated house on Kimball Avenue.

The tour featured live musical interludes performed by musicians from the Junior Musical Club of Westfield, including Sebastian and Tristan Wroe, teenage sons of NJFO music director David Wroe. A luxury basket raffle, door prizes and the fare of local vendors augmented the festivities.

“We pick the houses based on recommendations we receive from designers and architects,” Carol Tenner, an event organizer, told LocalSource in an interview at the event. “We interview the homeowners and we’re lucky if someone lets us open their home to the public.”

The event proceeds will benefit the NJFO, which was formerly the Westfield Orchestra.

“We’ve held this tour for over 30 years now and we’ve had houses in Plainfield, Scotch Plains, Summit and Berkeley Heights, but it’s usually centered around Westfield,” Tenner said. “The proceeds go to support the symphony and outreach programs that bring music to inner city schools.”

The tour began in a 16-room Queen Anne style house on East Dudley Avenue, built in 1885. It had been recently renovated and had a carved mahogany staircase distinguished by a 19th-century gargoyle newel post. The house opened to a foyer and to the left was a library with a fireplace as centerpiece. To the right was a dining room with period sconces along with a 21st-century chandelier. At the end of the hall was a massive modern kitchen and a great room with a view of the grounds.

The second house, a Colonial on Highland Avenue in a lush setting, was filled with hardwood floors and had a large living room with a fireplace and mantle with framed mirrors above it. There was a graceful dining room with displays of silver, china and other family keepsakes, including a collection of rare antique books. The pantry had

plenty of storage space and featured cherry countertops. The windows were lightly covered to allow for maximum natural light.

The third house, located in a part of town known as “Indian Forest” because of its Native American encampments during the pre-Revolutionary times, was a creation of the owners’ storybook castle vision. A curved wood staircase was accented by decorative iron railings that ran upstairs to the balcony, topped with mahogany. A room with a stone fireplace surrounded by bookshelves featured furniture from the owner’s grandmother’s farmhouse. The basement included a dance room with a graffiti mural on the wall, and the back door opened to a pool area.

The last house on the tour reflected the sophistication of its inhabitant, a designer. The living room’s stained dark wood floors supported a series of couches around a fireplace.

A sunny home office was accessed through French doors, and the dining room featured an Asian flare, with a scene of water and mountains, with china and crystal closets containing family antiques.

The kitchen had quartzite countertops with a marble backsplash. Adjacent to the kitchen, a cozy family room and fireplace featured a spacious art room for children, and the large outdoor patio had a fire pit, bar and


6 Responses to "Doors — and pocketbooks — open for orchestra’s sake"

  1. Elizabeth   May 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    It was a great day.. fabulous homes and a perfect Mother’s Day celebration!

  2. Michelle Pierce   May 25, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    What a wonderful event despite the inclement weather! Everyone involved did a fabulous job!!

  3. G B Trabert   May 25, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Well written. I would have loved to have read about the houses before the event!

  4. Tony Cook   May 25, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    The homes were beautiful and support a great cause, live classical music of the highest quality, right here in town. How blessed we are.

  5. Alan Smith   May 25, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    The tour was spectacular. Highly worth attending. Homes were lovely. And the experience of seeing them with the docents and music wafting gave it a nice touch.

  6. Keith Hertell   May 26, 2017 at 8:28 am

    No better way to enjoy a professional orchestra in your own backyard!