Notable Benicia homes, colorful gardens open for tour

By From page B2 | April 25, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Five of Benicia’s best homes – including the Fish-Riddell mansion, a local landmark  — will open their doors to the public May 10 for Benicia Historical Society’s annual home and garden tour.

“These homes and gardens are among the very best Benicia has to offer,” said Vicki Cullen,the tour chairwoman, in a press release. “They show true pride of ownership – pride in the homes, pride in the gardens, pride in their history.”

The houses offer an architectural timeline of Benicia’s history, featuring homes built from the 1850s to the 1940s. Gardens at several homes will be open, as will as a fountain-filled garden in downtown Benicia.

The tour this year also includes:

  • Vintage cars on display at many homes.
  • Plein air artists painting at several homes.
  • Floral arrangements at every home.
  • A refreshment stop.

Homes can be visited in any order. The entire tour loop covers 1.7 miles.

“It’s an easy walking tour so people don’t have to get in and out of their cars and find new parking spaces at every home,” said Jerry Hayes, president of the Benicia Historical Society, in the press release.

Tour highlights include:

  • The restoration work and garden at the Frisbie-Walsh-Hamilton home. The current owners have restored the former Captain Walsh House bed and breakfast to a private home.
  • The attention to detail in the restoration work at the Clyne-Leary home, which has been owned by the Clyne family and their descendants since the 1880s.
  • Original woodwork, stained glass and other architectural elements in the Fish-Riddell mansion including a fish inlay in the staircase landing and copper accents on the wainscoting. Original owner Henrietta Fish worked the copper herself.
  • The cinderblock construction of the Chavez-Gibbs home.This is the first time this home has been on the tour. It features the original kitchen and original tile in the bathroom.
  • The built-ins and finishes in the Walz home. Another first-time home on the tour, the yard features a small chapel that the original owner built for his wife.
  • The four fountains and spring foliage in the Heney garden.

Docents will be available at each location to provide historical and architectural information and answer questions.

Proceeds benefit the Benicia Historical Society’s programs, including efforts to restore the Von Pfister Adobe in downtown Benicia.

Tour participants are encouraged to round out their day at Benicia’s monthly Art Walk, 3 to 7 p.m. along First Street.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Benicia Main Street, 90 First St., Bookshop Benicia,  636 1st St., Camellia Tea Room, 828 1st St., Suite C, and Steve’s Hallmark, 844 Southhampton Road. All are in Benicia.

More information can be found at www.beniciahistoricalsociety.org.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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