On a beautiful June day, many homeowners in the hamlet of Brooktondale opened their homes and hearts to the public. We thank all of the participating homeowners for their hospitality. After the event, HI volunteer Claire Perez learned more about the experiences of several hosts after the tour and shared some of their thoughts and reactions:

Rita Rosenberg and Don Barber purchased Rosebarb Farm to preserve it and keep it in agriculture.

Rita Rosenberg and Don Barber have preserved Rosebarb Farm and continue to use acreage for agriculture.

Rosebarb Farm, 108 Landon Road While Rita Rosenberg and Don Barber already knew a great deal about the house they have lived in for 24 years, they wanted to learn more.  When Historic Ithaca said they would undertake more research, the Barbers were thrilled. “It was a factor that drew us to participate,” says  Rita. The Barbers are only the third family to live in their home in over one hundred years. The former owners liked it when Rita and Don approached them to purchase the property intending to “keep it in agriculture and preserve it.”

The tour provided a welcome opportunities for visitors to see inside 570 Valley Rd.

The tour provided a welcome opportunity for visitors to see inside this 1835 Greek Reival  home at  570 Valley Rd.

570 Valley Road It was the late Molly Adams who motivated Mary Psiaski to participate in the tour. Molly was Brooktondale’s historian and a long-time friend and former board member of Historic Ithaca who passed away in June 2014. Mary’s family has lived in their house for seventeen years. They moved into their home because they wanted to raise their seven children in the City of Ithaca school district. Mary and her husband enjoyed the tour and advise future tour participants “to have fun with it.” She observed that it is okay to let go of perfection. “People enjoy connecting with others who have old homes. It was nice to hear people say that they had wanted to see the house for a long time and that the tour provided them with the opportunity.”

Roberta Militello renovated her home at 535 Valley Rd. herself and opened the house to creek views.

Roberta Militello renovated her 1880′s-era home at 535 Valley Rd. herself and opened the house to creek views.

535 Valley Road Roberta Militello enjoyed the tour and said that visitors appreciated her work on her home. They especially liked renovations that made it possible for her to view the creek from the house. Roberta knew most of her home’s history, but she also learned the house was younger than she had thought by about forty years.  She would recommend that others open their homes for a tour because she reported “a fantastic time and fabulous docents.”

B.J. Isbel's Italianate house incorporates many items from Significant Elements. Her renovations spanned 10 years.

B.J. Isbel’s Italianate house incorporates many items from Significant Elements, with renovations spanning 10 years.

534 Valley Road As a supporter of Historic Ithaca and Significant Elements Billie Jean Isbel was especially interested in participating.  She has incorporated many items from Significant Elements into her home.  Billie Jean accomplished much of the work on her home herself, along with the research. When she bought it, the house was in disrepair.  Her son even asked:  “Why did you buy this dump?”  Billie Jean’s work on her home took her ten years to complete. She displayed documents about the home for tour participants to peruse.

Bottom Line: Community Smiles!

By all accounts, participants said “That Old House Tour: Brooktondale” was a well-organized and fun event that brought smiles to the community. Advice for future hosts? One homeowner said, “Remember that people don’t care if you have a towel out of place. You may learn some new things about your home. People who visit are very respectful and appreciate what you share.” –Written by Claire Perez

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