Five beautifully-restored homes from the 1910s and '20s will highlight an era in which Houstonians lived without highways and air conditioning in a compact city of roughly 150,000 people. Current homeowners will be on site at every location, ready to field questions about everything from the neighborhood's history to architectural preservation.
"We always try to maintain a small town feel to the event," longtime tour organizer Karen Niemeier tells CultureMap. "Each visit should be like coming over to a friend's house rather than walking into a museum."
"Each visit should be like coming over to a friend's house rather than walking into a museum."
This year's tour throws a curveball with the inclusion of a sixth home built in 2011. When a 2009 fire devastated the previous structure, the homeowners (longtime East End residents themselves) wanted to rebuild in the spirit of the area.
"It's important to show what can be done instead of just a bland McMansion," Niemeier says. "New construction can work with the existing neighborhood. Big porches, pier-and-beam and Craftsman-style details all make sense and look wonderful alongside the older homes."
For the Eastwood centennial, former DiverseWorks head and local resident Diane Barber helped organize an exhibit of historic neighborhood images culled from the City of Houston’s vast photo collection. Interspersed with the archival pieces will be new photographs of the culturally-vibrant neighborhood taken by East End artists Abrahán Garza, Mike Luster and Stick 'Em Up film director Alex Luster. The exhibition will be on view at 742 Telephone.
Also new to the 2013 tour is special on-street project by Better Block Houston. On Sunday, the urban planning nonprofit plans to take over a full block Telephone Road at Lockwood for a temporary installation demonstrating how existing city streets can be adapted for better walkability and community connectivity.
Tickets for the 18th annual Eastwood Home Tour can be purchased at Bohemeo's cafe on Saturday and Sunday. The East End Then & Now exhibit opens Friday with a reception at 7 p.m. The Better Block event runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday along the 700 block of Telephone.