Patrons crowded the sidewalks of the historic F.Q. Story neighborhood Saturday night, sipping hot cider beneath twinkling Christmas lights. The next afternoon, more people lined the same streets in search of handmade jewelry, art and steaming hot kettle corn served from the tents of local vendors.
But while the refreshments and crafts may have been crowd-pleasers, the majority of the visitors were in the neighborhood, located just west of downtown, to catch a glimpse inside the historic homes of the neighborhood during the annual F.Q. Story Historic Home Tour. The historic neighborhood is bounded by McDowell Road to the north and Roosevelt Street to the south, Seventh Street to the east and Grand Avenue to the west.
This year’s festivities marked the 28th year of the neighborhood’s tours, which proved to be just as busy as in the past. The tours are the neighborhood’s biggest fundraiser of the year, bringing in more than 2,000 people hoping to get a look at 1920-1930s era homes, all of which are decorated for Christmas.
Lynwood Street was the focus of this year’s tour, with 10 homes on display.
Jaime Casap is one homeowner who has taken a more modern approach to decorating his historic home. A frequent traveler, Casap had art pieces from several continents lining his walls and perched in corners. When passing through his house on the tour, visitors also caught a glimpse of Casap’s home office, which is painted vibrant blue and features a large map with pushpins pinned on all the countries he has visited.
But despite the modern touches, the classic windowsills and floor plan tell the story of a home that was built long before Casap and his wife purchased it two and a half years ago.
“We looked at 29 different houses when we were in the market,” he said. “But when we walked into this one we fell in love with the space.”
Casap also said the vibe of a historic neighborhood was another selling point for them.
“We love our neighbors here,” he said.
Judy Wright is another homeowner and tour participant who particularly enjoys the feel of the historic neighborhood.
“In 2001 I came to a home tour and fell in the love with the neighborhood,” she said. “I vowed I would buy a house here.”
Two years later, she purchased a 1936 Spanish Colonial home that includes historic features like a cove ceiling with chandelier and an original milk door in one of the walls.
Besides buying and restoring a house, much work goes into preparing and decorating for the home tours.
“I took off two weeks to do this,” said Wright, motioning towards festive pieces aligning her yard. Wright’s hard work paid off, as patrons frequently came up to her to compliment her home and decorations.
“The charm is really what gets me,” said Mary Reiland, a visitor at the Saturday evening tour. Reiland went on her first F.Q. Story Home Tour four years ago and said she was glad to make it again.
“We live in East Mesa so we drive a long way,” she said. “But it’s worth it.”
F.Q. Story is not the only neighborhood that opens itself to the public; it is one of several historic neighborhoods in the downtown area that put on home tours. But F.Q. Story leads the Phoenix historic housing community not only in number of people who visit their tours, but the number of days they hold festivities.
Diane Hochstetler is a homeowner in F.Q. Story and a volunteer for the annual home tours. Last year she had her house on display, but she spent this year helping sell tickets and guiding people through the selected houses.
“It really is a privilege,” she said about having a home on the tour. “People are so thankful that you open up your home and let people through to see it.”
F.Q. Story is one of several neighborhoods with historic home tours. The Evans Churchill neighborhood, in the northeast portion of downtown, started its annual Interesting Interiors Tour last year, showcasing the interiors of new and old houses and apartments in the area. The Willo, Coronado and Encanto neighborhoods are also hosting home tours early next year.
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Correction: Dec. 4, 2012
A previous version of this article misspelled Diane Hochstetler’s last name, spelling it “Hochstetter.”