MARTINEZ -- Anyone who has ever wanted to get a peek inside some of the historic private homes in Martinez' quaint neighborhoods will again get that opportunity Saturday by going on the Martinez Historical Society's seventh annual Home Tour.
"Unless they know the owner, this is the only chance most people get to ever see the inside of any of these homes," said historical society member John Curtis.
In addition to the photos by Carter Wilson and a collaboratively written house history provided in the guidebook people receive when they check in for the tour, each home has up to four docents along with neighbors willing to share the history of the house. Owners will also be available, but as they will be participating in the tour they will not be home for the entire tour said Curtis.
Curtis said many of the homes have beautiful architectural details inside as well as outside. Also, many of the owners are antique collectors and have interesting stories to share about their collections and artwork, as well as details of the house.
In one of the homes there is an antique clock with a Star of David. The story, according to the homeowner, is that prior to World War II when her parents lived in Poland, a Jewish family gave the clock to them for safekeeping. The family said they would return for it, but never did.
"They didn't know, don't know, what happened to the family," Martinez Historical Society member Carolyn Boone Duncan said.
With the exception of the almost perfectly preserved 1928 Spanish Revival known as the "Costanza House," the tour is concentrated in the neighborhood between Martinez Junior High School -- a state-award winning example of a 1931 Spanish Revival building -- and the 1937 Shell Club House with its wonderful Arts & Crafts interior on Pacheco Boulevard.
"This area includes the original Christian Brothers Vineyard and Winery before the order moved to the Napa Valley," said Duncan.
Homes chosen this year are mostly built in the late 1800s and early 1900s and are typical of the style of this neighborhood. There are six private homes on the tour, seven points of interest in the neighborhood and the city's four museums, including the Martinez Adobe on the grounds of the John Muir National Historic Site.
Although the free visit to the John Muir site has been an integral part of the home tour, the former residence of the famed naturalist may be closed this year because of the federal government shutdown. Duncan hopes that won't be the case.
Homes are chosen by a selection committee that decides on a neighborhood and after viewing residences from the street and sidewalk, and choosing those with architectural and historical interest. Owners are then asked to participate by receiving a surprise gift basket filled with goodies delivered to their home along with an invitation.
All homes and points of interests -- with few exceptions -- are new on the tour, including the Spanish Revival Church built in 1928 and known for its stained glass windows and the 900-pound antique bell in the tower.
In keeping with the historical tone of the tour, many docents and homeowners dress in period clothing, and vintage car buff Paul Kraintz contacted the Model T and Model A car clubs to bring vintage automobiles to the event. Cars will be parked on the curbside at many of the sites.
There are two shuttles making the loop from the Shell Club House to the Martinez Junior High School, stopping at the sites along the way. Volunteer drivers will provide people with information about the area during the trip.
It is a self-paced tour, said Duncan. Most houses are within walking distance of one another, and people who may wish to walk most of the tour can catch the shuttle when they need. It is scheduled to loop every 10 minutes.
The tour begins at the Shell Club House. The ticket provides entry to the homes and access to the shuttle and a goody bag containing water and other items. In addition, there are raffle tickets for sale to win one of the many gift baskets. Ticket holders do not need to be present to win.
As in past years, all proceeds benefit the historical society's efforts to restore and reopen the Old Train Depot downtown.
Curtis said the home tour has allowed the society to raise between $5,000 and $10,000 each year for the depot project.
"Portions of the depot date back to 1877," said Duncan.
WHAT: Seventh annual Martinez Home Tour
WHEN: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 (tour bus service every 10 minutes)
WHERE: Starts at Shell Club House, 1635 Pacheco Blvd., Martinez
TICKETS: $25 in advance with check or cash at Char's Flowers, 635 Main St.; Rumain's Jewelry, 510 Center Ave.; Bagel Street Café, 580 Center Ave.; The UPS Store, 1155C Arnold Drive, in the Lucky Shopping Center; and I've Been Framed, 411 Ferry St. For credit card purchase, go to www.martinezhometour2013.eventbrite.com. $30 day of event. Purchase at Shell Club House or online at www.martinezhometour2013eventbrite.com
INFORMATION: Visit: www.Martinez