PIEDMONT -- Take a peek inside five fabulous homes -- four in Piedmont and one in Oakland -- at the 25th Annual Heart of the Home Tour on April 26-27, sponsored by the Children's Support League of the East Bay.
"The tour is going to be special this year because it's our silver anniversary," said event co-chair Patricia Forsyth. "Last year, we raised $205,000 that was distributed between 29 different agencies that serve children in need and at-risk in Alameda and Contra Costa counties."
The all-volunteer CSL was founded in 1986 and has since given $2.9 million in grants. Forsyth said this year's event will be action-packed.
There will be a boutique at the Piedmont Community Center with about two dozen vendors, plus live jazz and wine tasting. If all that shopping makes you hungry, vendors El Sur and Mayo & Mustard will serve homemade empanadas and gourmet sandwiches.
New this year is Kids Science Camp, at which children can explore the local habitat with Mr. Science of Tree Frog Treks while their parents take a leisurely tour.
"We're also going to have a Julia Morgan impersonator at the 1915 Tudor Revival manor that Morgan designed," Forsyth said. "She'll be dressed like Julia Morgan and will talk about the history of the house."
The palatial 13,000-square-foot Tudor -- called Harrow Manor because it was designed after Harrow School in England -- was extensively remodeled by its current owners and has some fascinating features, including a small theater with 17 seats and a big screen.
"The theater used to be a ballroom where they would have USO dances in the 1940s," said Stacy Mattson, the home's owner.
The game room used to be part of the servants' quarters but is now equipped with a pool table, pinball and popcorn machines, as well as old road signs that the owners like to collect.
Harrow Manor will also host the VIP breakfast on its spacious outdoor veranda that boasts a panoramic view across the Bay. VIP tickets also include a silver anniversary celebration -- a gala event on the night before the tour. A Georgian Colonial Revival is this year's designer showcase home.
"The owners were agreeable to bring in local designers to redo some of their rooms, including a girl's bedroom and a 'man cave,' " Forsyth said. "It's absolutely amazing what they've done."
Another featured home is the first LEED-certified sustainable home in Piedmont.
"LEED is a federal program so it's pretty hard to get the certification," Forsyth said. "All the wastewater gets recycled into the garden through a huge capture tank. Each home on the tour has something unique."
A 1924 Newsom and Newsom-designed home with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms that's also on the tour has been meticulously renovated with no detail overlooked. One example is the hardwood mantle in the living room, which was built in New York and shipped in sections to California.
"Everything in this home is so subtle," Forsyth said. "The details are wonderful."
Forsyth said this year's expanded tour is still in need of volunteers and docents. To volunteer, call DeAnna at 510-595-1594.
"We're so grateful to all our volunteers and donors," Forsyth said.
What: 25th Annual Heart of Home Tour sponsored by the Children's Support League of the East Bay
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26-27
Where: Four homes in Piedmont, one in Oakland
Cost: Tickets in advance, $45 for tour, $55 for tour and lunch; tickets on tour day, $50 for tour, $62 for tour and lunch; VIP ticket package, $125
Tickets and information: 510-338-4521 or www.ChildrensSupportLeague.org