Take “A Step Back in Time” with the Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society, as the organization hosts its biennial self-guided house tour from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23.
This year’s tour will highlight seven one-of-a-kind homes, each noted for their distinct charm and local significance.
“This is an event that everybody looks forward to, and in my opinion, is one of the nicest events in town,” said Robin Smith, co-chair of the HEWHS House Tour. “It’s usually well attended and we get a nice group of people who come out to walk our streets, and who are mostly interested in the history and the architecture of these houses.”
The Augustus T. Skillman House, located at 208 Stockton St. in Hightstown is one home not to be missed, according to Ms. Smith.
“We try to promote our town history and highlight some of the different homes here in the area,” she said. “The people who buy these old homes really do put a lot of time and energy into restoring them and the tour gives them a chance to shine. You know, when you look at the before and after pictures of these homes, it’s just amazing.”
Additionally, The Mount House, at 201 Stockton St. in Hightstown, is another one of the tour’s promised highlights this year.
“The Mount House has the most history, and has never been on tour before,” said Shirley Olsen, chairwoman of the HEWHS House Tour. “The 2 1/2-story Italianate home is located in the Hightstown Historic District. The living room and dining room have beautiful wide pumpkin pine floors, chestnut doors and a pretty brick fireplace in the dining room.”
According to a recent write-up by the HEWHS, the woodwork in the dining room is rare American Chestnut. In the early 20th century, approximately three billion American Chestnut trees were wiped out by the Chestnut blight.
In the dwelling’s family and dining room hangs a collection of ice tongs, organ pipes and carpenter tools. Also seen in this room are paintings by local artists including, Betty Reeves Klank and James Carpenter. Ms. Klank and Mr. Carpenter were both art teachers at Hightstown High School.
The Mount House also holds a long and rich history of beloved Hightstown inhabitants. While the home’s smaller wing was built in 1810, the larger wing was built in 1860. In 1896, Thomas and Sarah Mount sold the home to Addie Stults.
Ms. Stults’ grandson, C. Stanley Stults later sold the home to Mildred Davenport, who taught mathematics in the Hightstown public school system and Jane B. Donnell, who became the first and only female superintendent of the schools. Reportedly, Mr. Stults sold the house to Ms. Mount and Ms. Davenport for $1 in gratitude for the education he had received over the years in Hightstown.
In the early 1950s, Mr. Davenport then sold the home to Edgar and June Thomas. Mr. Thomas was a music teacher at Hightstown High School, the chief school administrator for the East Windsor Regional School District and a member of the HEWHS.
The 2016 tour will also feature the following homes:
The Thomas Thompson House
The Thomas Thompson House, 108 Etra Road in Hightstown dates back to 1919. In the 1980s, Mr. Thompson’s grandson, Steven Thompson, sold the home to Susan and Keith Howell. This arts and crafts style dwelling boasts English and Colonial Revival elements. The home’s original furniture has been passed down over the years between owners. The living room sconces are also original Tiffany.
The Abijah E. and Eva Wright Applegate House
The Abijah E. and Eva Wright Applegate House, at 216 South Main St. in Hightstown, was built in 1902. This historical and architectural treasure has remained in Mr. Applegate’s extended family for 102 years. The dwelling boasts inlaid-marble terrazzo floors, a stained-glass window landing, and a chestnut banister and staircase. Although the current owners have made renovations, much of the home’s original features have been re-purposed.
The George W. Conover House
The George W. Conover House, at 309 Stockton St. in Hightstown was built in 1889 for Mr. Conover. The 2 1/2-story folk Victorian is filled with paintings including, work by Antonia DeVily, a Parisian street artist from the early 1900s. Handmade acoustic instruments hang in the dining room, and the stained-glass window in the kitchen was salvaged from a church in Cranbury Township.
The Old Meeting House
The Old Meeting House, located at 171 Stockton St. in Hightstown was built in 1835. The brick building that contains what is now a two-family home, was originally a part of the construction boom that began when the railroad came to Hightstown.
The structure originally housed Hightstown’s First Methodist Church and was made with two front entrances - one for men and another for women. In the 1850s, the Methodists outgrew this location. When the second church was built on Church Street in Hightstown, the Old Meeting House was sold to Jeff Bond and refitted as a dwelling. Although both sides of the building had to be gutted, Mr. Bond worked to reconstruct the house as close to the original as possible. He was able to save the French doors, the fireplace and some of the flooring.
The William G. Riley House
The William G. Riley House, lat 231 Morrison Ave. in Hightstown was purchased by Mr. Riley, a Civil War Veteran and Hightstown railroad engineer from the Morrison Family on June 1, 1901. To date, this charming house reflects its family’s love for the arts. The living room and music room houses a collection musical instruments including, a mandolin, a harp, guitars and banjos. The master bedroom features a stained-glass window above a custom-made bed, complete with a handmade necktie quilt.
The tour is dedicated to the memory of Clifford Pullen, Clark Hutchinson and Dick Simmon.
Pre-sale tickets are $20 at Perennial Home, at 119 West Ward St. in Hightstown; Weichert Realtors, at 417 Route 130 in East Windsor; and Hair by Sharon, at 128 Stockton St. in Hightstown.
Tickets the day of the tour cost $25 and can be purchased at the HEWHS, at 164 North Main St. in Hightstown.
For more information on this event, call (609) 448-8388 or visit, www.hewhs.com.