Spring is the season to peek inside those beautiful houses we often hurry past on the way to work or other stops on our busy schedules. And this year, Philadelphia Open House of the Friends of Independence National Historical Park is sponsoring 27 tours of the region's neighborhoods through June 17.
On Sunday, for instance, the Overbrook Farms House Tour will offer visits to a number of dwellings and the Spanish Renaissance-style Overbrook School for the Blind, built in 1901, which is observing its 175th anniversary this year.
Overbrook Farms, between 58th and 66th Streets and Woodbine and City Avenues, is a planned community established in 1892. Its spacious houses were designed by such architects as Horace Trumbauer, Chester Kirk, William Price and his brother Walter, Lawrence Visscher Boyd, and Charles Barton Keen. Tickets for the tour, sponsored with the Overbrook Farms Club neighborhood association, include a Victorian tea in the rotunda of the school building.
Society Hill will open its houses May 6 and its gardens June 3 as part of the Open House/Friends program with the Society Hill Civic Association. Within the boundaries of Society Hill lie examples of homes and architecture from Colonial through modern times. It is said that the neighborhood south of Independence Hall has this country's largest concentration of original 18th- and 19th-century buildings.
The garden tour includes 15 or more private city gardens and several public spaces that are kept well hidden from tourists and pedestrians.
- Alan J. Heavens