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Landmark tour: Lush city setting

It’s the type of neighborhood where you have to know someone to buy a home there, jokes Jason Roberts and his partner Bob Farnan.

For years, the couple eyed the Mt. Hope and Highland historic neighborhood near Highland Park, embracing the landscape and the architectural details of homes on Reservoir Avenue.

Their opportunity to purchase a property came last year when they heard from a friend that a bungalow-style home would be for sale. Quietly, Roberts and Farnan made a private offer, and the deal closed without the house ever being on the market.

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“You’re in the middle of the city, but you’re in a world of your own,” Farnan says of the Mt. Hope and Highland neighborhood.

The couple’s Arts and Crafts-style home at 86 Reservoir Ave. will be showcased along with nine other neighborhood homes during the Landmark Society House Garden Tour next weekend.

The annual tour is one of the biggest fundraisers for Landmark Society of Western New York, says director of public programs Cindy Boyer. Tour headquarters are at the Lamberton Conservatory, 180 Reservoir Ave., home to unusual plants and more than a dozen turtles.

The area near the park was the exclusive domain of the Ellwanger and Barry Nursery and the Mt. Hope Cemetery throughout the middle and late 19th century and retains the influences of architects and gardeners of the time.

That tradition is still apparent in the neighborhood, Roberts says. There’s an element of keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to landscaping and maintaining gardens.

As new homeowners, Roberts and Farnan are working on their existing landscaping with a Japanese maple and blooming purple phlox at this time of year. Their home, which has one-level living and three bedrooms, was built by Charles W. Eldridge in 1911 with a low-pitched roof and broad eaves. One of the bedrooms has been turned into a study with built-in seating. The kitchen is updated to modern standards with a skylight to project light into the room.

Across the street at 89 Reservoir Ave., homeowner Terry May has been working on his side-entrance Colonial-style home and his garden for the past quarter century. The tour will be his grand finale. He and his partner, Joel Smith, have sold their home, also through a private sale, and will be moving to Palm Springs, Calif.

Built in 1922, the style of the home is unusual, as it looks to be a Dutch Colonial on the exterior. Painted shingles highlight the exterior, and there is a front porch with access only from inside the house.

Inside, the home retains all of its old world charm with modern updates. Filled with wood trim, May and Smith decorated it in the Arts and Crafts style. Art enthusiasts will find Japanese prints and pottery from Germany.

The garden room was added by the couple so they could enjoy the outdoors year-round. It is adjacent to the kitchen, and while the two work on meal preparation, they can look out the window.

The urban backyard is a retreat in the summer with a small pool surrounded by landscaping. Azaleas are blooming brightly right now with purple allium and phlox. May does not like to use annual flowers but planted some marigolds for the garden tour to give his backyard a pop of golden color.

May and Smith have taken great care in making sure that updates are in keeping with the home’s character. The new owners are thrilled with the mature landscape and the upgrades, May says.

At the bungalow home, Roberts and Farnan have just started to think about their renovation projects.

“We wanted to live in the house for a while,” Roberts says, noting that they want to make sure the upgrades are indeed suitable for their lifestyle.

They will also keep character in mind when upgrading, noting they are just a small part of the home’s history.

“We’re just stewards of this house,” Roberts says.

MCHAO@DemocratandChronicle.com

Twitter.com/mchaostyle

Garden tour season

Throughout the summer, organizations raise money through home and garden tours. Here is information on some this month:

Landmark Society House Garden Tour

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday, June 7 and 8.

Where: Mt. Hope and Highland neighborhood. Tour Central is at Lamberton Conservatory, 180 Reservoir Ave.

Cost: $22 in advance (recommended); $25 the day of the tour if tickets are left.

Tickets: Parkleigh, 215 Park Ave.; Landmark Society office, 133 S. Fitzhugh St.

More information: landmarksociety.org.

RMSC Women’s Council Garden Tour

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 14.

Where: Begin at any home on the tour. Homes are all over the area; addresses are on the ticket or, if you’re buying the day of, by calling (585) 225-0455.

Cost: $18 in advance; $20 the day of tour.

For tickets: RMSC.org, several garden centers and florists and Parkleigh (full list on website).

Greece Notable Garden Tour

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 14.

Where: Six gardens through Greece, with live music, refreshments and more. The Greece Performing Arts Society’s Tour Central is at the Greece Historical Society, 595 Long Pond Road, where a free Garden Market will be set up.

Cost: $15 in advance; $20 day of tour.

For tickets: Frear’s Garden Center, 1050 Stone Road; VanPutte Gardens, 138 North Ave.; Rockcastle Florist, 870 Long Pond Road; Green Acre Farm and Nursery, 3456 Latta Road.

For information: (585) 234-5636.

Article source: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/lifestyle/2014/05/31/lush-city-setting/9804163/