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Whirlygig: 77: Out on the Town

Clifton opens its doors for its recent house tour

By Wendy Robinson · May 14th, 2003 · Whirlygig
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Tour De Force

Everything has a season, and spring seems to be the season of love. This past weekend we loved our mothers, our grass loved the rain and Clifton loved 10 of its houses with the Clifton House Tour.

A house tour in any neighborhood is fun, as it's a bird's eye view of how people live both past and present. I love the idea of a real home versus a model version in a newly built development, because the essence of the people who live there is more interesting to me than the idea of a golf course view.

In addition, it's always intriguing to see how modern conveniences meld with the styles of architecture from decades past. Call me a voyeur, but I'll even admit I adore seeing other people's personal photographs on the mantle.

My mother and I share our curiosity for historic homes and unique interiors. On Sunday it seemed fitting that we'd trek through Clifton's Gaslight neighborhood as a Mother's Day activity that burned more calories than a humongous brunch. The tour provided little shuttle buses, but the lines for that service far exceeded my patience for standing in line, so Mom and I hoofed it as much as possible.

From the number of people waiting for shuttles and for entrance to the homes themselves, I would guess that the crowd exceeded organizers' expectations. I thought I overheard an organizer say that 900 tickets were sold by Saturday night before the event on Sunday, but surely that number was too high.

Can you imagine having 900 people traipse through the place you call home? Luckily there are truly gracious homeowners in Clifton who indeed volunteered to open their doors for Cincinnati to look inside. Three of the homes had us put on surgical booties to cover our shoes before entering. While it was clumsy to accommodate the demand, I can certainly understand the request. I'd hate to see the dirt that accumulated with this crowd.

It wore out my mother and me seeing all 10 homes in four hours flat. We stopped only for a quick potty break and Graeter's ice cream. We figured we earned it from all that walking. We narrowly beat the crowd at Graeter's before deciding to drive our car to the last two houses. Our poor feet were rebelling though our taste buds were rejoicing with mocha chocolate chip and raspberry chip ice cream.

As we contemplated our "best of show" award for our personal favorite house and interior, we realized that this tour experience was consistent with past experiences, which are many. We love the window into the neighborhood and its occupants. It was sheer delight to see beautiful original stain glass windows along with architectural details to die for, great art on the walls and creativity everywhere.

But the volunteers were amazing. The people were friendly and knowledgeable about their neighborhood and seemed overjoyed that others were sharing their enthusiasm for the piece of Cincinnati they call home. We concurred that all 10 homes were unique and worth seeing, but hats go off to Clifton overall as the winner. It's a cool place to live.



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