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A tour of history: See 6 privately-owned historic Walla Walla houses

WALLA WALLA -- Think living with historic architecture means doing without modern comforts?

Six homeowners living in turn of the century homes -- that's turn of the previous century -- are opening their houses for a Sweet Home Walla Walla home tour from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 19.

"The focus of the tour is to show how people can live in a historic home while still enjoying modern comforts like microwaves," said Greer Buchanan, assistant director of Kirkman House Museum in Walla Walla.

"Sure the owners have had to make some accommodations to modernize over the years but for the most part the houses still retain their historic look, or personality, if you will," Buchanan said.

"We want to show there is a way to have both," she said.

The tour is sponsored by the Kirkman House Museum and proceeds will be used for expanded community programming, especially the Hands on History summer children's program.

"It's tours like this which help keep the personality of Walla Walla alive. Walla Walla is a very historic town and we need to remember our heritage and where we came from, especially with the town growing and becoming a tourist destination," she said.

The tour maps will include information on the houses and the people who built them. Volunteers, and the homeowners too, will also be on hand to help answer any questions.

"Cultural heritage and cultural education are our two main priorities here at Kirkman House Museum. Highlighting our historic architecture and the families who built these houses and their background is our way to remind people of our heritage," Buchanan said.

The houses all are are privately owned and most have never been opened to any tour before.

"So unless you know the owners this is your chance to peek beyond the front door," Buchanan said.

"The homeowners are choosing how much of their homes they're willing to show. Some will pretty much have the whole house open, others will just have the main floor public rooms open," she said.

As with any home tour, organizers are asking everyone to leave the high heels, strollers and cameras at home.

"There will be booties available to go over your shoes. But high heels can damage old wood floors," she said.

Restrooms will not be available on the tour except at the museum.

The tour begins at Kirkman House Museum where you'll exchange your ticket for a map showing the locations of the six homes. The museum doors will open at noon April 19 and close at 4:30 p.m.

Advance tickets are $20, or $15 for Kirkman House Museum members. The member price is only for tickets bought at the museum. Tickets are $5 more the day of the tour.

"Tickets are limited to 400 so there's no guarantee that tickets will be available at the museum on the day of the tour. Far better to buy them in advance," Buchanan said.

Tickets can be purchased via credit card by calling Kirkman House Museum, 509-529-4373.

Tickets also are being sold at Gary's Paint and Decorating, 114 S. Second Ave., and Earthlight Books, 321 E. Main St., both in Walla Walla.

To get to the museum from the Tri-Cities, drive east on Highway 12 to Walla Walla, take the Second Avenue exit and drive about a quarter mile on Second Avenue before turning left onto East Cherry Street, proceed to the intersection of Cherry and Colville streets.

For more information on Kirkman House Museum go to www.kirkmanhousemuseum.org. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

* Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com. See more of the Herald's Home & Garden stories at www.tricityhomeandgarden.com

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