While walking her dog around the Stratfield neighborhood each evening, Liz Kohm often finds herself lingering in front of certain houses, wondering about their history.
The story of her own Stratfield home, a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1909, is also always on her mind. When an 1850 Greek Revival house across the street was torn down and two new homes built on the property, Kohm decided it was time to do some research. What she discovered surprised her.
“I found out that my house was built for the sister of the woman who lived in the demolished house,” she says. “Everyone in Stratfield is connected by living in the same neighborhood. But what I realized is that many of our homes are connected as well, sharing a history.”
That realization led Kohm, a board member of the Stratfield Village Association, and friend Meghan Ward to organize the first-ever Stratfield Village Holiday House Tour last December. The tour offered a peek inside beautiful homes, coupled with a history lesson. It was also a fundraiser for the SVA to support building community through neighborhood beautification efforts, community activities, and historical preservation.
Renee McMichael’s Brooklawn Park home was one of the five houses selected for last year’s tour. “It has unique characteristics that I’ve never seen in other houses,” she says. “I think it’s important to maintain it and share that kind of history with others. We’ve lived in several old houses and we always feel like we are the caretakers and we need to leave it better then we found it.”
Growing up in Stratfield in the 1970s and 1980s, Jane Becker recalled her own personal history on the house tour last year when she visited the Young home. “I walked up and down Toilsome Hill on my way to school every day,” says Becker, who still lives in the neighborhood. “When I was a kid, the gardens at the house (then owned by the Ensingers) were always beautiful. It was so fun to actually go in the house as an adult, and discover that the inside was equally gorgeous.”
Homeowner Carolyn Trabuco found references to four weddings that took place in her stately, brick 1920 Brooklawn Park house, another stop on last year’s tour. But she couldn’t predict that history would repeat when Maureen Anderson, a house tour volunteer whose father previously owned the Trabuco home, revealed that she was one of those brides.
“The house has a history that she is a part of,” says Trabuco. “When Maureen told me that she had been married there, my heart caught in my throat. I wanted her to know that like her, I loved the house and would take great care of it. I wanted to continue to fill it with beautiful memories.”
The Stratfield Village Holiday House Tour will be back for a second year on Saturday, December 7. New offerings this year include local decorator vignettes in each home, plus a pop-up shop with a curated group of vendors at the ticket pick-up location at Owen Fish Park on Stratfield Road the day of the tour.
And while the houses for this year’s tour are a closely guarded secret until the actual day, expect to see terrific style and décor that is sure to provide even more inspiration, memories, and glimpses into history.
“This house tour wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Stratfield neighbors willing to put aside the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to open their homes for an afternoon,” says Christine Chisholm, a co-chair of this year’s tour.
“We live in a vibrant, history-filled area of Fairfield with such interesting people and houses,” continues Anderson, now a co-chair of this year’s tour. “We are thrilled to be able to share our pride and these homes with our neighbors and other friends, from near and far.”
THE BIG REVEAL // The five homes on the tour are not announced until the day of— Saturday, December 7. Tickets are $40 per person (ages 12 and up) and can be purchased at stratfieldvillageassociation.org or on the day of at the American Legion Hall at Owen Fish Park, 1443 Stratfield Road.