“It’s from Russia,” Melissa Armak told tour-goers about her dining room chandelier. “It’s the closest I could get to the original.”
Armak’s stately home at 260 E. Olive Street in Long Beach, built in 1918 by shoe magnate I. Miller, was one of six stops on the Long Beach Historical & Preservation Society’s Heritage House Tours on June 12.
Nine years have passed since her Greek-Revival home, with its double-column supported pediment and portico, has been on the annual tours that started in the early 1990s. A native of historic-rich Fairfax County, Virginia, Armak delights in opening her home for viewing. “I think it’s important to foster an appreciation for architectural forms,” she said.
The tours feature a mix of both historic and newly built or refurbished houses.
“They add variety,” Grant Giedel said of the newer homes. He and his wife, Donna, were docents on one of five buses with some 150 tourists.
This year, the buses stopped for the first time at Lido Towers condominiums in Lido Beach, where Long Beach historian Roberta Fiore talked about a mural of the Lido Hotel, the original 1929 building, and resident Dodo Burke told tales of decades past.
The Historical Society rotates most of the historic homes on its tours, and a committee knocks on doors at homes they want to include on it.
“The ladies came around a few years back, but I wasn’t ready,” said Lisa Pecora, whose modern Mediterranean-style home, at 943 W. Park Ave., was newly showcased.
The committee approached Pecora while her home was under construction from 2004 and 2006. “I wanted to help them raise money,” she said about the tours, a Society fundraiser.
Florence Shapiro of Manhattan is a regular tour-goer. “I come every year,” she said. “I like the variety of houses.”
When the bus travelled to Harrison Avenue, tourists visited two adjacent homes. At 304 Harrison is a new sage green, three-floor house with a slate chimney that was originally a small cottage like its neighbor at 308.
In 2002, Beth Blinderman moved into the then cottage, and when she and contractor Craig Meltzer became domestic partners in 2009, he rebuilt the home.
“It was too small for us and not enough closet space,” Blinderman recalled.
Next door, at the 1950’s bungalow with a white picket fence, Adrian Corwin had knocked out ceilings and reconstructed the original three bedrooms into two larger rooms to create space. A color theme of purple, pink and turquoise, from the floor tiles to a bed spread, ties the rooms together.
“I liked the way she reconfigured the home for her needs,” said Dale Singer, an Island Park resident who cited Corwin’s as her favorite house.
The final stop was at Debbie Whitefield and Barry Hanson’s home at 254 W. Penn St., described in the tour booklet as a “1910 grand Estates of Long Beach Palladian-style villa.”
The couple converted its eight bedrooms into seven. It is one of two homes featured every year.
“We’re supporters of the Historical Society,” Barry said, “so we believe the tour they do each year gives people the opportunity to see these older homes.”