by Dave Warner

Preserve our Past (POP) organized a holiday home tour on Saturday, which kicked off at the Women’s Christian Association building on Garden Street, and then led to four other homes.

Jane Ritz, a member of POP said, “This is our first architectural house tour and it’s an opportunity for people to see some of the beautiful houses that surround Western Park, which is known as Burke Park. We’re featuring many different styles of architecture. We’ve got early craftsman, federal, and Italianate. Really, some very, very beautiful homes.”

“We hope to make the public aware of the rich architectural heritage of the City of Little Falls, which is part of our mission,” she said.

Tour participants got to admire the impressive brick Queen Anne style home owned by Linda and Dale Wagner located just off the park at 542 Gansevoort Street. Popular between 1880 and 1900, this style was an architect’s delight, providing opportunities to design homes employing an array of sculptural shapes to produce the required asymmetrical result. The Wagner home’s hip roof includes gables, dormers, and a commanding square tower topped with a smaller version of the main hip roof and enhanced with fine-gauge brackets and Gothic trefoils. A hooded gable is a flanking element beside the tower.

A highlight of this festive holiday event was a visit to the Allen and Geri Kazmerski home, one of Little Falls’ tributes to the universally admired Arts and Crafts style. This design was popular in America circa 1900 to 1930 and was dedicated to an emphasis on natural materials. This local example marries wood, stucco, glass, and brick to create a strong geometric building of a striking rhythmic design. Wooden verticals symmetrically placed on stucco sidewalls echo old English Tudor elements and add to the dramatic design of the home.

The Victorian home at 507 E. Lansing Street was purchased by Jeff Smith and Pat Rockwell in 2005 from the Filipski family. It had been cut up into 4 apartments. Over the next several years Smith/Rockwell restored the building to a single-family home. Walls were removed and areas reconstructed, bathrooms we reupdated, many windows were replaced, monumental chimneys were restored, trim was painted, the roof was replaced, hardwood inlaid floors were restored, all rooms were repainted and the gardens were cleaned up and replanted. The basement apartment was kept as a rental unit as it has a private entrance. The carriage house behind the home, which was a working carriage house in its day, was painted and is used as a garage.

The Ann Tomei residence at 547 Garden Street, is a stately two-story brick Italianate house built circa 1860 and located in one of Little Falls’ most historic neighborhoods. True to the prescribed silhouette, it features the usual primary and secondary sections and has the shallow sloped roof with a generous overhang enhanced with symmetrically placed brackets. Limestone lintels support the masonry above the window openings. The carefully chosen front door is a recent replacement and is a double door design with segmental curves at the upper edge. The accompanying carriage house located next door to the residence retains some of its architectural elements complementary to the main house and has been repurposed as a private residence.

POP President David Dardzinski said, “We’re excited about getting to see the insides of these historic homes that have been restored or kept as original for years and maintained by the owners. We appreciate all their efforts and willingness to open up their houses for visitors to enjoy the architecture that we have here in Little Falls.”

The program and fundraiser was sponsored by Canal Side Inn and participants were encouraged to bring their program guide down to the restaurant where they were treated to complimentary Charcuterie, featuring gourmet sliced meats and imported cheeses with asiago crostini.

The tour was organized to fund the bandstand restoration project in Burke (Western) Park. Preserve Our Past (POP) forms a strong base for protecting the architectural integrity of the City of Little Falls and the rural areas beyond it, making people aware of the importance of the uniqueness of our buildings that make our streets and community special and different from any other.

Photos by Allen Kazmerski – 526 E Monroe St