The historic village of Owego, N.Y. will be the setting for a home tour on the second Saturday in September.
Hosted by the Preservation Association of the Southern Tier (PAST), the annual event, a walking tour, is scheduled for Sept. 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. The annual tour rotates through communities in Broome and Tioga Counties.
PAST works to preserve the heritage within Broome and Tioga Counties by promoting and protecting places of historic, architectural and cultural significance, and promotes their mission via education and special events.
Individuals who purchase tickets for the Owego tour will be shown five historic homes.
Tickets are $20 for PAST members and $25 for non-members if purchased by Sept. 5. After Sept. 5, tickets will be $25 for PAST members and $30 for non-members.
Terry Van Hall, a PAST board member, and her husband, Richard, will welcome guests to their 396 Front St. home during the tour.
Terry remarked, “The committee thought Owego would be a great choice for the 2019 tour!”
Another popular home tour in Owego that is held during the holiday season is hosted by the Tioga Arts Council.
PAST, with over 400 members, hosts a Garden Tour in June and a Spirits Tour in October, among other events and efforts, such as awarding educational scholarships.
As guests tour each of the five homes, intriguing facts will be highlighted, to include history of influential residents and architectural points.
The Van Hall’s describe their home as, “A Second Empire Style built in 1867 with a mansard roof and Italianate influence.”
For example, an early resident of the Van Hall’s home was John J. Taylor and his wife, Emily (Laning). A native of Massachusetts, Taylor was a Harvard graduate and moved to Owego in 1834. He married Emily, the daughter of General John Laning and Mary Ann (Hollenbeck) Laning, in 1837. The home remained in the Taylor Family until the early 1940’s.
Taylor was a lawyer and the Tioga County District Attorney from 1841 to 1843. He represented the county at the 1846 constitutional convention and was a member of the 27th Congress in 1852-1854, among other notable achievements. The Taylor’s now rest at Evergreen Cemetery in Owego.
The Van Hall’s commented, “Original to the house, we love that the fireplaces and many of the chandeliers were intact,” adding, “The butler’s pantry survived with its original sink and built-in drawers.”
Interestingly, the kitchen at the 396 Front St. property features an annunciator, or a bell system that alerted the butler or servants when a resident needed assistance or when a visitor was at the front door.
“The annunciator is a cool piece of the past that reminds us of a different world,” Terry said, adding, “Actually the house hasn’t changed much since it was built.”
A water-holding reservoir housed in the attic for two bathrooms no longer functions, yet the attic, Terry chuckled, “Came with a quarter-court basketball hoop set-up!”
For more than two decades, the Van Hall’s have been working diligently to improve several aspects of the home, including the original windows, four porches and lighting fixtures, along with chimney repair.
“Richard has been the scaffold guy,” Terry said, adding, “With six chimneys, it has been a huge project lasting over five years.”
The historic home tour starts at the Tioga County Historical Society Museum located at 110 Front St. in Owego and covers approximately 1.7 miles via Front and Main Streets. Guests are advised to wear comfortable shoes that can be easily removed since they will be asked to wear booties while inside the homes.
Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.pastny.org. Tickets will not be mailed, but can be picked up at the museum from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the day of the tour. Tickets will also be sold at the museum. If you have questions, call (607) 237-0887.