The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 21, 2003


"Through the Doors of Carlisle" . . . the Carlise house tour premiere

There are many ways to raise funds for the Carlisle Public School. But the best fundraisers are those that are fun and offer opportunities for many people to participate. The Carlisle House Tour on Friday, December 5, promises to be entertaining, with the added benefit of involving many people from Carlisle and the surrounding communities.

Unique tub: Stretch out in this freestanding tub in a master bath.(Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

The theme of the tour is "Through the Doors of Carlisle." The CSA House Tour Committee is keeping the location of the seven houses secret, but they did divulge some tantalizing details. The ages of the houses range from a few years to more than two hundred years. And the features are unique and impressive. Imagine taking a bath with a lovely fireplace warming you at your side. Or picture yourself reading a book on a winter's day in a stone-flagged family room, listening to water trickle from the soaring stone fountain. You could be transported back in time, cooking breakfast in the fireplace while the Minutemen march by at one house, or feeding the chickens and horses at another house. Old beams, high ceilings, and antiques abound in these homes. In fact, there's so much to see it will be a challenge to visit all seven houses between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., the hours of the tour.

Concord tour a success

The idea for a tour arose last summer as the Carlisle School Association (CSA) met to discuss ways to raise funds for the Cultural Enrichment Program (which brings cultural and educational programs to the school) and educational grants (monetary grants for teachers and staff for specific needs, such as computers). "We wanted to combine two things," CSA President Dale Ryder explained. "We wanted to involve the community, and we wanted to raise funds for the school." Committee member Marty Blue suggested a house tour, similar to the one Concord holds every spring. Ryder contacted Janice Battle and Valerie Thayer in Concord, who have worked on the Concord House Tour for years. "They encouraged us," said Ryder. In fact, she said, they suggested the tour will attract a surprising number of visitors. And that's a good thing, pointed out committee member Michelle Sobin. "We can draw from other towns," she said, "and not always go to the same people for donations."

Fireplace: Pots waiting to be heated at this 200+-year-old fireplace. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

Homeowners accommodating

But how did the committee find homeowners willing to open their doors to strangers? "First we met to brainstorm on the types of houses we would want," explained Kelly Driscoll, who is in charge of tour logistics. "Our big concern was to make sure we had a good mix of architecture and decorating style." The homeowners they approached were enthusiastic, she reported, and very willing to assist the tour. Not all the homeowners have children in the school, but "They want to see the tour succeed for the school," concluded Driscoll.

Assistance, involvement community-wide and beyond

One major goal of the tour committee was to involve the community, and it has been successful. The first-grade students at the Carlisle School are drawing their own renditions of their homes, and the art will be displayed at the Town Hall on the morning of the tour. Committee member Timm Brandhorst is assisting the first graders in designing unique ways to display their art. Flowers for each home are being provided by Bedford Florists and refreshments will be available at the Town Hall during ticket pickup, courtesy of Starbucks and Bread & Circus. Visitors will be asked to take off their shoes while inside the homes and carry them in the plastic bags provided by The Learning Express in Acton. "And we'll have doormats" to keep front halls neat, added committee member Nancy DiRomualdo. Barrett's Realtors of Carlisle is helping with costs by placing an ad in the Tour brochure. Dinardo Design and Windfall Software, both of Carlisle, donated design and typesetting services. A very generous donation of services was received from Offset Printing, owned by Carlisle resident Kevin Balboni, who is printing the advertising flyers and the brochures. Because of these donations, the tour team has been able to keep the costs low so the maximum amount of money would be available for the Carlisle School.

Bedroom suite: A gracious sitting area by the fireplace in a master bedroom suite.(Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

A host of volunteers needed

Gathering up the more than one hundred volunteers needed for the tour isn't an easy task, but House Tour volunteer coordinator Diana Kolstad says people have been willing and enthusiastic. Most rooms in the homes will be open to tour, so each house has a house manager, and at least five volunteers per shift (three shifts for the day), to provide coverage. "The volunteers will welcome people," Kolstad explained, "answer questions, provide security, and make sure the rules are followed and that people have fun."

Gertrude Behn, who has two grandchildren in the Carlisle School, will be working the 11:00-1:00 shift at one house. "It's an opportunity to see some familiar faces," said Behn, when asked what she thought it would be like to work the tour. "It reminds me of the people who work at the DeCordova to help visitors," she added. Kolstad said she would like more senior citizens and dads to volunteer, especially for the 1:00-3:00 shift. Paul Anagnostopoulos, who has an office in Carlisle, is eager to volunteer. "I want to work at a unique house with unusual features," he said. He won't be disappointed with his assignment, according to Kolstad.

Ticket pickup, parking, lunch

Ticket pickup is at the Carlisle Town Hall at 9:30 a.m. The 'ticket' is actually an informative sixteen-page brochure, with a map of Carlisle in the center. Each house is listed by a tour number and address, corresponding to a number on the map. The visitors with advanced reservations ($15) will be able to quickly pick up their tickets and head out on the tour, while walk-ins will purchase their tickets that day ($20). There will be extra volunteers assisting with the parking traffic at the Town Hall. As part of her role as organizer of house logistics, Driscoll has designated parking at each of the homes. She will have traffic cones placed to indicate parking and the locations will be noted in the brochure. Some local businesses have generously offered parking in their lots.

A row of lanterns highlights unique skylights. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

House Tour Committee member Sandy Nash has contacted Daisy's to warn them that hundreds of hungry people may descend during the lunch hour. Daisy's will be designing a "CSA House Tour Special," which will make it easy for visitors to pick up lunch and be on their way. The police have been contacted, Ryder said, to alert them to the possibility of heavy traffic. They will make the rounds between the houses to add to the security.

Good for the school, good for the community

The Concord tour, held in the spring, is extremely popular. The Carlisle House Tour may attract over 500 visitors, warned Battle. That is music to Ryder's ears. "The tour is chance to bring the town together" in a fund-raiser that provides much needed funds to the school, and involves a cross-section of the community, she said. With such beautiful homes to visit, and a scenic town as a draw, the Carlisle House Tour promises to be a fun and successful event.

Carlisle House Tour

Tour times are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pick up tickets and begin the tour at the Carlisle Town Hall, 66 Westford Street, Carlisle
Advance sale tickets $15, day of tour tickets $20
Children under 12 free
To reserve tickets send a check (payable to CSA) to:The Carlisle House Tour, P.O. Box 4, Carlisle, MA 01741
Please include your phone number or e-mail address.
Information: 1-978-369-7978 or

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito