MARTINEZ -- Sabine Pitts was transported back in time when she stepped foot inside a two-bedroom Craftsman bungalow back in 1987, and knew she was home.

The public is invited to get a glimpse of what she felt that day during the annual Martinez Home Tour on Oct. 13.

Pitts' house, built in the 1920s and once on the condemned list, had been restored the decade prior with plumbing, roofing and electrical that met the building code.

The German native just needed to add her special touches, which included having French doors lead out to a courtyard patio; painting the exterior a welcoming yellow with green and white trim; installing crown molding; redoing the outdated kitchen and bathroom; building an idyllic, white picket fence -- and creating a vibrant garden.

She brought it to life from her own cultivating, by way of "snippings and snappings," she says, with such flora as cosmos, marigolds and zinnias propagating themselves.

"My primroses have had children and children and children," she says.

This year, Pitt's place caught the eyes of the organizers of the upcoming event.

She recalls the morning last March when she went out to get her newspaper and discovered a bountiful gift basket, brimming with Martinez fare from the event volunteers, with a note asking that her home be part of the tour.

"Unless you know the homeowner, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the interior of these homes," says John Curtis, president of the Martinez Historical Society.


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Meanwhile, Jan Depuy is offering a place that expands the historic landscape. The proprietor of the longtime, downtown Nature's Way Doll Centre and Doll Hospital is giving the public a viewing of historic dolls from the United States Civil War era, along with Europe and Asia.

The seven featured homes and other historical points of interest date back to the mid- to late-1800s, with tours of the Martinez Adobe, John Muir's Italianate Victorian; the Borland Home, now the site of the Martinez Museum, and the monument identifying the spot where the original concoction of the martini was made in 1874. Across the street, a Victorian cottage is appointed with art inspired by the Martinez famed cocktail.

Examples of early 20th century buildings include City Hall, built in 1917. The tour starts at the Shell Club House -- of the Arts and Crafts era -- where the public can enjoy live music, craft exhibits and displays of vintage camera equipment and historical photographs.

"We want to encourage people to preserve their homes. This tour gives them a chance to see what other homeowners have done in order to incorporate it into their own restoration," says Curtis, noting the prevalence of period-specific cabinetry, windows and doors.

Proceeds from the Martinez Home Tour help raise funds to restore the historic Train Depot, which dates to 1877.

If you go
What: Martinez Home Tour
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13
Where: Tour starts at Shell Club House, 1635 Pacheco Blvd.
Tickets: $25; includes shuttle
Information: www.martinezhometour.com