Eveline Dennis, of Newport Beach and a self-described “Laguna-phile,” has missed the Village Laguna Charm House tour just three times in its 45 years. “It’s the only home tour I care about,” she said. “Newport Beach just has cookie cutter mansions.”
Six Woods Cove homes lovingly cared for and painstakingly curated by their owners and housing original art, antiques and significant historic roots are on this year’s tour, slated for Sunday, May 21. Buses will set out from the Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, from noon to 3 p.m. Homes are available for viewing until 5 p.m.
Visitors can get a look inside French influenced cottages, a 1963 mid-century modern home, a craftsman bungalow and a three-level luxury retreat built in the late 20th century.
A bonus for this year’s tour-goers is the opportunity to see Rosaura Ulvesstad’s award-winning Mediterranean garden adjacent to a Center Street house with the moniker Nod to Mod. Traditionally owners are asked to choose a name for their homes, tour-organizer Charlotte Masarik said.
HMI Designs transformed Villa Diamante by architect John O’Neil into a traditional contemporary home three years ago.
The Dragonfly Bungalow is a Sears Roebuck, Cape Cod kit-house restored and remodeled by its owners who incorporated the “crazy brick” masonry style into the landscaping.
An eclectic two-story Normandy Revival cottage built in 1936 by French-born architect Yann Egasse, designer of the Eschbach building in Laguna, is called Less House, More Home and is modeled after a 13th century French chalet. The house called Sea Glass reflects a Nantucket style.
Surrounded by heritage eucalyptus trees in what was Laguna’s first sub-division, El Mirador, laid out in 1927, is The Barn built by Isaac Frazee in 1940. He built the house as a gallery and studio and was known as the “dean of the Laguna artists.”
Frazee and his wife Bettie were friends with noted Impressionists such as William Wendt, Joseph Kleitsch, Frank Cuprien, Edgar Payne, Roy Ropp, and Anna Hills. The current owners have made repairs and renovations in the three years they’ve owned their home, which now holds a Kleitsch portrait of Frazee and other works by Hills, Cuprien, Clarence Hinkle, William Darling, and Dedrick Stube.
The Charm House Tour is the major fundraiser for Village Laguna, whose mission is to “preserve the town’s character and heritage and protect the ocean and coastal habitat,” their website states. “Proceeds from the tour support City Council candidates that most closely agree with these values,” Joanna Felder, Village Laguna’s president, said in a previous interview.
According to their latest financial disclosure filing, Village Laguna, a mutual-benefit organization, had $427 on hand as of Dec. 31, having spent nearly $30,000 in the last year, including backing Vern Rollinger’s unsuccessful bid for a council seat.
When Dennis sent her check for tickets last month she included a note explaining her three absences over 45 years: when her son married in Kauai and dates that conflicted with church retreats. Her initial tour visits involved a drive from her home in La Verne accompanied by a friend from Ontario. Eventually she moved to Laguna Beach, raised her kids and became a member of Little Church by the Sea where she still serves as a greeter. Even after moving to Newport, she continued to support Laguna, marching to save the canyon in 1989 and becoming a member of the Greenbelt.
Such loyalty prompted a phone call from Kate Clark, recording secretary for Village Laguna, and Masarik. The three met and bonded over their shared love of Laguna and Big Sur. “We’re friends now,” said Dennis, who will receive a special call-out at the tour after- party at the Neighborhood Congregational Church.
Tour tickets, $50-$60, include transportation and refreshments and may be purchased at villagelaguna.org, by check to Village Laguna Charm House Tour, P.O. Box 1309, Laguna Beach, CA 92652, or at shops including Copy and Print Center, Ego Salon, and Laguna Beach Books.