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In full bloom: Home and Garden Tour celebrates local architecture, history

By Staff | May 3, 2019

Tulips bloom in the garden behind the Potts House, at 105 New Street, during the 64th Annual House and Garden Tour on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN – “When you have an old home, it’s always trick to make it livable, period,” said Heidi Ware of the Wizard Clip Garden Club, as she led a group through two rooms in the Potts House, during the 64th Annual House and Garden Tour.

The tour, which shows off eight houses in Berkeley County and Jefferson County every April, raises money to finance the community work of garden clubs in the Shenandoah-Potomac Garden Council.

“While it’s also a fundraiser, our purpose is to educate people about the history of the county. It’s a group effort for all of the garden clubs,” said Windflower Garden Club member Ann Workman, mentioning one to two garden clubs is assigned a house on the tour to decorate with additional flowers and show to the community.

Workman’s club was partnering with Ware’s club to show off Trinity House, at 104 New Street, which had never been shown on the tour before. Shepherdstown’s other house on the tour, the Potts House, at 105 New Street, was also new to the House and Garden Tour, which limits showing the same home to once every 10 years.

According to Workman, the tour changes with the changing tastes of attendees.

Shepherdstown Mystery Walks owner Janet Hughes portrays Sarah Andrews, the wife of Dr. Charles Andrews, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in the 1860s, in the Trinity House during the 64th Annual House and Garden Tour on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

“When I first started helping with the tours a few years ago, most of the homes were your traditional historic homes, but now the tour includes more contemporary architecture,” Workman said, referring to two homes on the tour from the 1950s and mid-1960s.

While not all of the home owners were present for the tour, Trinity House’s new owner, Brenda Thorne, welcomed guests into her home. For Thorne, getting the home into a tour-worthy state took a lot of time and money on the part of her and her partner, Wayne Bronson.

“It came on the market the first of September 2017 and we put out a contract and got it within the first three days,” Thorne said of the home, which was renovated and decorated with antiques. “There wasn’t anything structurally wrong, but it was in rough shape. We categorized the updates in three phases – stripping wallpaper, electric, plumbing and paint – that was six months of work. Phase two was the bathrooms, and the third phase was the kitchen.

“I put a new garden in last summer, and was approached then to show the home in the House and Garden Tour,” Thorne said, mentioning she hired Shepherdstown Mystery Walks owner Janet Hughes for the weekend to portray former resident Sarah Andrews, wife of Trinity Episcopal Church’s rector in the 1860s, Dr. Charles Andrews.

Across the street at the Potts House, Shenandoah Garden Club members led tour members through the former home of Henry W. Potts, who later built Popodicon in 1907. Owned by the Ayraud family, the late-Victorian home contrasted with Trinity House, as it was decorated with a modern aesthetic.

Isaac Cummings, of Jefferson, Maryland, picks out a piece of The Very Famous Shenandoah-Potomac Applesauce Cake on the back porch of the Potts House, during the 64th Annual House and Garden Tour on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

According to tour members, the two aesthetics gave them ideas for their own historic home improvements.

“We’ve been working on our historic house for 30 years,” said Bob Jean, of Jefferson, Maryland, as his grandson, Isaac Cummings, and wife, Galey Jean, admired the Potts House garden.

“Old houses are mysteries, which are fun to try and figure out,” Galey said.

To learn more about the House and Garden Tour, visit www.shenandoah-potomacgardencouncil.org.