Fort Wayne’s West Central Neighborhood is gearing up for the 36th annual Home & Garden Tour and ArtsFest Sept. 8-9.
Last year, the event drew 2,000 onlookers to admire the historic homes, beautiful gardens and artistic talent on display throughout the weekend.
Tickets for the tour grant access to 11 locations throughout the neighborhood. A docent at each location will check off each stop on the ticket. Charlotte Weybright, chair of the tour and ArtsFest committee, said ticket holders don’t have to visit all 11 locations on one day; they can come back and finish touring on the second day.
“The stops can be done in any order you like,” she said.
Carriage rides, provided by Sentimental Journey, will be available to take people from site to site. Petty cab rides and horse-drawn wagon rides will also be available.
The West Central Neighborhood encom passes all of downtown Fort Wayne west of Calhoun Street, but the heart of the neighborhood is its residential area, the development of which began as early as the 1830s. Because of the historic and architectural significance of the area, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
“The older neighborhoods have a charm to them,” Weybright said. From castle-style homes to worker cottages, the variety of architectural styles found in West Central has long made the neighborhood a source of fascination, she added.
“We have literally every variety of architectural style from about the mid-1800s up through the 1960s,” she said. “People find that fascinating because in today’s world, structures tend to be more uniform.”
This year’s tour will feature a few new stops including the Carole Lombard House on Rockhill Street. The 1930s film star was born in the house as Jane Alice Peters. She would later take the professional name of Carole Lombard and become the highest paid actress of her time. Her career was cut short when she died at the age of 33 in an airplane crash while returning from a war bond tour.
Another addition to this year’s tour is a historic home designed by Joel Roberts Ninde, one of the first female architects in Fort Wayne and Indiana. According to ARCH, her designs were a blend of economical building materials, construction durability and eye appeal for the homemaker.
The former GE Club on Swinney Avenue will also be featured on the tour. Built in 1927, the GE Club marks an era in American history when it was common for large employers to provide recreational facilities for employees and their families. The facility includes a bowling alley and gymnasium.
In addition to historic sites, the tour will also feature a new build in the neighborhood by homeowners George and Terry Taylor.
“That was a completely new construction and they just did a marvelous job,” Weybright said. “It had to of course go through the historic preservation commission for approvals on literally everything they did, especially the architectural features.”
ArtFest will take place in conjunction with the tour on Wayne Street between Rockhill and Jackson streets. The street festival will feature about 50 art vendors selling homemade, handmade crafts, including pottery, photography, painting, stain glass and more.
Festival-goers will have the opportunity to see nine different musicians and performers over the weekend, including the Fort Wayne Ballet Youth Company, Alicia Pyle and the West Central Jazz Quartet.
Food vendors, including Mad Anthony Brewing Company, Shigs and Pit, Out of a Jam, King Arthur’s Kart, Bravas and Big Apple Pizza will also be on site.
Advance tickets for the West Central Home & Garden Tour are $13 online and will be $15 on the day of the tour. ArtsFest is free to the public.
Weybright said the tour is still looking for volunteers. Those who sign up get a free ticket and an invitation to the pre-tour celebration.
For more information, visit westcentralhomeandgardentour.org or contact Charlotte Weybright at (260) 348-2871.
IF YOU GO
What: West Central Home & Garden Tour and ArtsFest
When: Sept. 8-9
Hours for home tours and ArtsFest vendors: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday
Hours for performances: 1:30-10:30 p.m. on Saturday; 1-6 p.m. on Sunday
Tour tickets: $13 before the tour; $15 the day of
ArtsFest admission: Free