A mom’s home & garden tour

Five historic homes are opening their doors for GALs 13th annual fundraiser

The Gilroy Assistance League is holding its annual Home & Garden Tour Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13.

From original oak floors and pellet stoves to Gothic-style gables and outdoor aviaries, the Gilroy Assistance League has lined up five historic homes in the heart of Gilroy for its 13th annual Impressions: Home & Garden Tour.

With the money raised during the 2016 home tour, the Gilroy Assistance League (GALs) was able to give out more than $19,000 to 13 youth-supporting programs at local agencies and schools, with $21,000 raised in 2015.

“GALs takes great pride in locating some of the finest and most interesting homes in various areas of our community,” says Vicki Campanella, a GALs member for 10 years. This year, GALs continues its tradition of giving back to the community with a lineup of extraordinary downtown dwellings—one of which is on the historic registry.

Here’s a sneak peek of 2017’s tour highlights:

I was lucky enough to visit Jane and Ken Heredia’s 2,400 square-foot Colonial Revival Cape Cod-style home, built in 1939, which kicks off the tour. This beauty rests on one-third of an acre and features original oak flooring and a modern kitchen complete with a five-burner stovetop, a double oven and two-toned counter tops, which have become a popular trend. Moved from the front of the home to the back of the home in 1988, the kitchen’s white cabinets, paired with dark grey quartz and a white subway tile backsplash, frame the perimeter and a lighter, marbled quartz tops the center island.
“We were going to tear down a wall and make it bigger, then a draftsman suggested to us to place the kitchen in the back of the house,” says Jan Heredia. “I didn’t know you could move it—it’s been wonderful because you come from the backyard into the kitchen, which makes a lot more sense.”

Characteristic of the Cape Cod style, the Heredias added a half story in 1980, the resulting vaulted ceilings create an airy, spacious feel perfect for entertaining. The rear yard is filled with colorful perennials, assorted Japanese maples, iceberg roses and a serene pool—but the most stunning element is the collection of 80-year-old redwoods brought in as seedlings by Mayor Peterson, the original owner. “That’s why we fell in love with this house—because of those trees,” says Heredia.

Other homes in this year’s tour range from 80 to more than 140 years old. The oldest is a Gothic revival home built in 1875 that features the homeowner’s collection of Victorian paintings and other 19th-century antiques. Another 19th-century addition to the tour, includes a classic Queen Anne Farmhouse built in 1885. Among the homes in California and Gilroy’s historic registry, the home itself is 5,300 square feet and shares the property with a 1,900-square-foot in-law unit. The home boasts a sitting area with heirloom World War II mementos, a wrap-around porch, private aviary and a collection of the homeowner’s own photography.

The final stop in the tour visits a 2,500-square-foot Early-California home built in 1931 where, amid cedar plank ceilings, built-in coffee bar, private Bocce ball court and an expansive outdoor entertaining area, guests will enjoy the GALs boutique. This final stop also features more than a dozen vendors displaying a variety of home and garden items from furniture and rustic, upcycled bird houses to jewelry and other original artworks, as well as the original Gilroy Assistance League Cookbook—perfect for Mother’s Day gifting.

A GALs work

Founded in 1959, GALs began as the Gilroy chapter of the Children’s Home Society, which assisted adoptive services. Former GALs president and grants chair Donna Pray, who has been involved with GALs since 1992, says there were only 15 members at the time. In 1984, the group changed its name to Gilroy Assistance League and opened membership to 25 members. Today the group has 35 active members at any given time.

“We concentrate on local fundraising in order to award grants to youth programs in Gilroy,” says Pray about GALs current focus. “We also aid in giving less fortunate families a holiday of gifts under the tree.”

“I love that we are able to raise money to help different nonprofit children’s groups,” says Michele Nowakowski, GALs recording secretary and member since 2010.

“Thirteen years ago the GALs organization knew they needed a fundraiser and decided to try a home tour in the Gilroy/South County area,” says GALs member and former president Janice Filice. Filice explains the annual GALs event is based upon a single phone call around the structure of the Rose Garden home tour offered in San Jose.

“A wealth of knowledge from one call,” says Filice. “Little did we know that this would become our signature event.”

This 13th annual ‘Impressions: Home & Garden Tour’ takes place on Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13. The tour begins at 7555 Princevalle St. Doors open at 10 a.m. Guests should allow two to three hours for the tour and must arrive to the first home by 1:30 p.m. The boutique closes at 5 p.m. and includes hors d’oeuvres and a no-host wine bar. Advanced tickets are $30. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $35. For tickets or more information contact the Gilroy Assistance League at 408.713.1414 or visit gilroyassistanceleague.org.

Debra Eskinazi
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About Debra Eskinazi
Debra Eskinazi is the editor of South Valley magazine.