October 21, 2020

Instead of a Live House Tour, Lambertville Opens Virtually

VIRTUAL VIEWING: This year’s Lambertville House Tour takes participants inside historic properties not seen on previous tours, with a series of videos produced by documentarian and local resident Gary P. Cohen. Aerial views of the town are part of the video event.

By Anne Levin

It might seem that a house tour that can’t be viewed in person wouldn’t be worth taking. But the Lambertville Historical Society has come up with a virtual program for this weekend’s Lambertville House Tour, its biggest annual fundraiser, that actually offers more to see and experience than on the traditional tours the organization has held during the past 37 years.

Organizers knew months ago that, thanks to the pandemic, opening the Delaware River town’s distinctive homes to the public would not be possible this year. After some brainstorming, they came up with a set of nine video tours of historic properties, with interior footage and aerial cinematography, produced by resident talent. Also included in the $10 admission are four presentations, and a live Q&A session with local architects and a well known interior design professional.

“When we realized we wouldn’t be able to do it, our biggest question was, ‘How do we keep the tradition alive?’” said Michael Menche, president of the Historical Society. “That was the main thing. So we thought a lot about how to do it virtually. You can’t re-create walking into a house. It’s just not the same. And we wanted to make it enchanting and informative, at a variety of levels in a virtual format.”

The nine tours have different themes focused on row homes, stone manor estates, and more. Menche is particularly proud of the aerial cinematography by Federico Ferreri, which soars above the trees and gives sweeping views of the town. “It’s very dramatic. It’s stunning. It gives you angles that you’ve never seen before,” he said.

Among the houses included are the oldest in town, and a few others dating back a few centuries. None have been open before. “The houses we chose would not normally be on a regular house tour,” said Menche. “The owners actually prefer the virtual format to people walking through their houses. And some are on the outskirts of town.”

The videos, which were created by documentary producer and local resident Gary P. Cohen, are set to music by local artists Carol Heffler, Dan Kassel, J.B. Kline, Pyrenesia, Stephen DiJoseph, and The Back Porch Jugband. The four presentations include “Vintage Living in Lambertville” by local author, designer and television personality Bob Richter; and examples of historic restoration in residential and commercial properties by architects Michael Burns, Lisa Easton, and Gary O’Connor.

“We really thought about the music we were using, which we wanted to be understated and elegant,” said Menche. “We thought about what track would make the most sense for each property. We were really striving for that enchantment.”

Tours will take viewers from basements to attics. Some of the owners have creative collections of objects from salvage to antiques, including one of glass bottles found on the property. “We have such a variety. There is the oldest house in town, so anyone who wants to see where George Washington stayed, we checked that box,” Menche said. “And then we have four expert presentations. Two of the architects will be available for questions at each webinar.”

The tour is Saturday and Sunday, October 24 and 25. Webinars will take place at four different times during the weekend: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. To register, visit lambertvillehistoricalsociety.org.