House tour season is kicking off on May 2 this year with the opening of the Kips Bay Decorator’s Show House and will continue throughout the summer at various sites throughout the city, New Jersey, and farther afield. For architecture buffs, history junkies, and avid gardeners, this time of year offers the rare opportunity to get an insider’s look at some of the most spectacular homes and surprising gardens in and around New York City. Below we’ve rounded up 14 of the season’s best tours, from the Upper East Side to Park Slope to Nyack to Long Beach Island, and we’re sure everyone will find something to suit their interests and budget.
The staircase decorated by Sasha Bikoff at the 2018 Show House © Nickolas Sargent Photography
Kips Bay Decorator Show House
Tuesday, May 2 – Thursday, May 31; open daily (check site for specific hours)
Celebrating their 47th anniversary this year, the Kips Bay Decorator Show House is an annual event that lets some of the biggest names in interior designer completely transform luxury Manhattan homes. This year a roster of world-class talent will take over 36-38 East 74th Street, a rare Upper East Side mansion spanning over 12,425 square feet. Each designer will reimagine a specific room or small space and they’ll have plenty of historic details to work with—including ten original fireplaces—and features like a circular staircase at the core of the home and a gorgeous garden in the back.
“There’s something for everyone, and there isn’t a closet or nook or cranny that isn’t done,” says Bunny Williams, who’s been the chair of the event since 2012. “Plus, every designer comes to the table with a new product or source. There’s such a sense of discovery, whether you’re a professional designer or just thinking about ideas for your own home.” Since the tradition started in 1973, all proceeds have been donated to the Boys & Girls Club for critical after-school and enrichment programs.
Image courtesy of Village Preservation
Village Preservation House Tour
Sunday, May 5, 1:00 – 5:30 p.m.
The Greenwich Village Historic District turned 50 this year so if you’ve never attended a GVSHP House Tour, this is the year to do it. On this self-guided tour, you’ll get access to seven homes throughout the charming neighborhood, which promise, “hidden gardens, unparalleled art, and historic charm.”
A house on last year’s tour, courtesy of the Larchmont Historical Society
Larchmont Historical Society House Tour
Sunday, May 5, 1 – 5p.m.
$65 now or $75 after April 20
Titled the “Magnolias and Mint Juleps tour” this one promises a peek inside “five of Larchmont’s most coveted and distinguished residences” along Magnolia Avenue, followed by a reception at the historic Larchmont Yacht Club on the Long Island Sound with plenty of mint juleps to go around. Known as “Tree City USA,” this affluent Westchester village is located just 18 minutes north of Manhattan and boasts lots of parks, shorelines, and quaint downtown shops and eateries.
Photo from the 2018 NYJL House Tour; photo by Jessica Jones
New York Junior League Annual Spring House Tour
Saturday, May 11, 10:00am-4:o0pm
The New York Junior League is one of the oldest and largest women’s non-profit volunteer organizations in the city and each year they host a bi-annual tour of either designer-owned residences or the homes of their members. This tour is on the pricier end but the cost includes a complimentary breakfast at the Astor House, a luncheon, champagne stops along the route, and a post-tour reception at Safavieh Home Furnishings.
A 1920s manor on this year’s Notable Homes tour, courtesy of the NJ Festival Orchestra
Westfield Tour of Notable Homes
Saturday, May 11, 10:00am-3:00pm
$40 in advance; $45 day of
Organized by the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, this tour comes with the unique perk of live music at each stop. You’ll get to see four homes in the charming New Jersey suburb, located just 45 minutes outside of the city. Included this year is a 1920s manor home filled with dark chestnut trim, mirrored furnishings, and rich gold and grey accents, and a West Coast-inspired new construction developed by a husband and wife builder/interior designer duo.
View of Carson McCuller’s house, one of the stops on this year’s tour; image via Wikimedia
Nyack House Tour
Saturday, May 11, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$50 in advance; $60 day of
Scheduled on the day before Mother’s Day, this tour would make a great family outing. Hosted by The Historical Society of the Nyacks this fun tour will take you to seven “architectural gems” ranging from Gothic Revival and Queen Anne Victorian styles to a converted barn with river views. Featured on this year’s tour is Carson McCuller’s home, which is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places for its association with the renowned American author who made Nyack her home from 1945 to her death in 1967. Shortly after she moved to her house in Nyack she wrote: ”I was always homesick for a place I had never seen, and now I have found it. It is here, this house, this town.”
Photo by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft
Sacred Sites Tour
Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19
Take a look inside the city’s various houses of worship with this two-day event, including guided tours of Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Staten Island, the United Palace of Spiritual Arts in Washington Heights, and Christ Church Riverdale in the Bronx. A tour of Moslem Mosque Inc. in Brooklyn will be followed by an “oral history party” while the Medieval to Modern Queens Tour will take curious visitors on a journey from a Quaker meeting house to St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church.
Park Slope brownstones, via Flickr cc
Park Slope House Tour
Sunday, May 19, 12:00-5:00pm
$25 in advance; $30 day of
Organized by the Park Slope Civic Council, this tour has been going strong for 60 years! Highlights on the seven-stop tour this year include an 1891 Renaissance Revival home with an art collection including Mary Cassatt, Hiroshige, and Whistler; a gut renovated 1882 home whose backyard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat; and an 1892 Romanesque Revival with elaborate oak wainscoting. Tickets will get you an illustrated brochure describing the history and interior of each home and a post-tour lecture with local architect-historian Francis Morrone.
The Halsey House, via Wiki Commons
Southampton Insider’s View
Saturday, June 1, 1:00 – 4:00p.m.
$125 in advance; $145 day of
The tour—celebrating its tenth anniversary this year—will allow participants to experience six homes (the full list hasn’t been released) that illustrate Southampton’s unique architectural history from colonial days to the present, including the 1648 Thomas Halsey Homestead, which was home to one of Southampton’s founders. The house has been maintained as a museum and you’ll get to see a range of period objects including 17th- and 18th-century furnishings, a Dominy clock, and a rare 16th-century Breeches Bible. The grounds include an herb and flower garden and an orchard that are maintained by the Southampton Colonial Society.
Courtesy of Keyport Garden Walk/Keyport Garden Club
Keyport Garden Walk
Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2, 11:00a.m. – 3:00p.m.
Here’s a chance to explore a range of public and private gardens in this charming Raritan Bay town, all for free! You can walk or bike through the downtown area as you go from site to site—enjoying live music, shopping, and local food as you go. You’ll get to see perennial gardens like the Elizabeth Street Community Garden and also learn about the rain gardens along Keyport’s waterfront. You can join in at any time during the day, but if you’re there bright and early you can attend a free garden talk each morning at 9:30 a.m.
Photo courtesy of the Hoboken Historical Museum
Hoboken Secret Garden Tour
Sunday, June 2, 9:00a.m. – 4:00p.m.
$25 in advance; $35 day of
Behind the row houses and rehabbed factories, Hoboken is home to a surprising amount of lush green spaces, and for one day a year, seven to 10 homeowners will open their gardens to curious visitors. Past tours have featured English cottage gardens, Japanese Zen gardens, and even a Moroccan courtyard. Created by home gardeners and professional landscape designers alike, each garden showcases clever solutions to common issues like space constraints and deep shade. This year’s tour is self-guided so you’ll get a booklet with a map and descriptions of each of the gardens, as well as some suggestions for brunch, lunch, and tea. Garden owners and Hoboken Garden Club members will be at each site to answer any questions. The tour is a fundraiser for the Hoboken Historical Museum.
A past year’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens House Tour, via Flickr cc
Prospect Lefferts Gardens House Tour
Sunday, June 2, 12:00-5:00pm
$25 in advance; $30 day of
To celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Lefferts Manor Association’s 1919 founding, this year’s house tour will focus on “highlighting the diversity of architectural style in our cherished neighborhood” by featuring ten properties from all ten blocks of Lefferts Manor, though the full list of stops isn’t available yet.
Long Beach Island via Flickr cc
Wednesday, August 7, 10:30a.m. – 4:30p.m.
$40 in advance; $45 day of
The six houses on this tour encapsulate the architectural history of northern Long Beach Island and are chosen based on their unique style, landscaping, interior decor, and energy efficiency. A two-hour drive South from the city, this one is a significant trek but it will be well worth the late summer escape to the relaxing Barrier Island. Though the list of homes this year isn’t available yet you can expect a good mix of oceanfront, bayfront, large, petite, new and old properties.
Photo of Ocean Grove’s Tent City © 6sqft
Historical Society of Ocean Grove House Tour
Friday, August 9, 10:30a.m. – 4:30p.m.
$35 in advance; $40 day of
This Jersey Shore town was founded in 1869 by a group of Methodist clergyman as part of the camp meeting movement and it remains the longest-active camp meeting site in the country. It also has the highest concentration of authentic Victorian architecture in the country and you’ll definitely get to look inside some of those on this year’s house tour, as well as an inn, various historic buildings, and one of the town’s famous Tent City rentals.
Know of another tour in the area? Let us know in the comments so we can add it to our list!
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Tags : House Tours