The Dormont House Tour is back for the first time in six years, and it has a new coordinator.
Janice Wyrostek has taken over the job held from 1989 to 2007 by Norm Simeone, a former library board member.
Mr. Simeone is credited with organizing and promoting the first tour in 1989 to raise money for the library.
The Dormont tour differs from others in that it was "never intended as a 'decorator's tour,' " Mrs. Wyrostek said. "The tour has featured Dormont houses and apartments to provide ideas for restoration, renovation and remodeling," she said.
"It's simply an opportunity to show what has been done to preserve and enhance the unique qualities of Dormont homes. Throughout the years, many present and former residents have opened their doors to all in order to share their lives, experiences and ideas."
The house tours came to a halt in 2007, when Mr. Simeone decided to cut back his schedule.
"My girlfriends and I always went on the tours, starting with brunch at my house," Mrs. Wyrostek said. "When the tours ended, we really missed them. Each year, I phoned the library to see if one was in the works, but they always said they didn't have anyone willing to organize one. This year, when I phoned, I said I'd like to give it a shot."
So far, Mrs. Wyrostek said things have gone smoothly, with a lot of people volunteering to include their homes on the tour. In fact, she said, the response has been so great, almost every slot is filled for a tour next year.
This year's tour, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 6, will feature eight houses, including a duplex, as well as the Hollywood Theater, South Hills Power Yoga and the Dormont Historical Society.
"Tour takers will be able to learn about the history of the borough as well as take a look at the very deep collections of the historical society," said Cindy D'Agostino, library director.
The historic Hollywood Theater opened in the mid-1920s in the era of silent film. It served as one of Pittsburgh's main second-run cinemas for decades. It hit upon hard times and opened and closed numerous times over the years until the nonprofit Friends of the Hollywood Theater reopened the theater in May 2011 after an extensive restoration. The Hollywood is one of the few remaining cinemas in the area with a balcony, and the only one with a theater organ.
Refreshments and music
All of the featured homes will be on the tour for the first time, except for the home of Jeff and Lucas Gracha and Corey Wingard on Espy Avenue, which was included on the last tour in 2007. However, the porch wasn't completely finished at that time. This time around, the unique porch -- at 55 feet in length, it is one of Dormont's largest -- will be the site for free refreshments and live music.
"Most of the homes are from the 1910 to the 1935 era, although one was built in 1950," Mrs. D'Agostino said. "Both sides of the duplex will be on the tour."
Mrs. Wyrostek said that, except for one smaller home, the houses are large. Both the first and second floors will be open for viewing, although some bedrooms will be roped off, giving tour takers a look inside from the hallway.
The tour is approximately 1 mile long and, according to Mrs. D'Agostino, it is "very walkable." Most of the sites are centrally located.
Each home will have a monitor to greet people at the door, and volunteers will be positioned in each room to ensure safety, answer questions and direct people to the next room.
"In the past, we used to print 400 tickets," Mrs. D'Agostino said. "This year, we've printed between 300 and 400 in the hope of bringing the tours back and making them an annual event."
Tickets for the 2013 Dormont House Tour are $20 and may be purchased at the Dormont Public Library, 2950 W. Liberty Ave. Phone: 412-531-8754.
House tour guidelines
• Visit the homes in any order. If a home is crowded, consider moving to another.
• Enter homes only through specified doors.
• Do not touch anything in the homes.
• Do not take photographs inside the homes.
• If the weather is inclement, plastic shoe covers will be provided. Walk carefully while wearing the shoe covers because they may be slippery.
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: email@example.com.