Anyone who has driven through Heritage Hills and wished for a peek inside the historic homes will soon have the opportunity. A tour of the stately homes and tree-lined streets in the Heritage Hills Historic District in Oklahoma City highlights the Oklahoma Centennial. The Heritage Hills Centennial Historic Homes and Gardens Tour on Oct. 13-14 will feature century-old homes, gardens and three landmark sites. The centennial tour presents six homes built from 1904-08 and two private gardens in the downtown neighborhood. "All the homes are so different,” said Jeana Miner, volunteer publicity chairman for the tour. "And the sidewalks bring people outside. Our girls love to ride their bikes and play outside. My husband and I grew up in small Oklahoma towns, and this is the type of neighborhood where we enjoy living.” She and her husband, Don, bought a home five years ago in Heritage Hills, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The neighborhood brings back memories of when people walked along the sidewalks and took time to visit with neighbors. Miner said the rebirth of midtown, downtown and Bricktown areas in Oklahoma City is bringing everything back to life. The restorations and renewed vitality in the areas complement one another.
Private gardensThe garden at the home of Glenna and Dick Tanenbaum is featured on the tour. The couple, who lived in Houston for several years, moved to Oklahoma City seven years ago. Glenna Tanenbaum said she remembers the evening her husband came home and told her he found the perfect neighborhood. When she first saw the house, it was a bit of a surprise. "Our house was in very sad shape; the worst house in Heritage Hills,” Tanenbaum said. "Our family is involved with and committed to restoration and preservation in Oklahoma City. It was natural for us to live in Heritage Hills and restore our house. This whole neighborhood is full of gems, and each home is so individual. I love the styles of architecture.” Although Tanenbaum doesn't garden, she had a clear idea of how she wanted the yard landscaped. She wanted many shades of green, and she didn't want to plant seasonal color throughout the year. She envisioned a park theme to surround the home, with many different trees and several cozy seating areas she said were almost like rooms. Brick walkways connect the distinctive outdoor "rooms,” and a pond provides a focal point for the owners whether inside or outside. The garden plan evolved from design to reality. Trees have matured, and the Tanenbaum home and garden at 617 NW 14 is a gathering place for numerous social events. "I love listening to running water, the wind and the sounds of nature,” Tanenbaum said. "It's so beautiful, and it's a quiet place in the city. I can hear the squirrels and the birds. We added a breakfast room, and every morning I read the newspaper, have breakfast and enjoy looking out at the yard.” The branches of a pecan tree provide shade for the family, a shelter for birds and a playground for squirrels. The home and gardens have been included on the Heritage Hills tours in the past. Like other homeowners in the historic neighborhood, Tanenbaum said she is proud of the work put into the home, particularly as it works toward their goal to preserve and protect historic architecture in Oklahoma City. The landscape design and garden of the 1907 prairie-style home of Dara and Derrick Prentice is included on the tour. In 2006, the owners began an extensive redesign of their backyard to transform a rarely used space into an outdoor living area. They wanted a backyard that appeared as a natural, architecturally consistent extension of the home. Their plan required starting from bare dirt. The area features graceful curved lines and is a gathering place for dining and relaxing with a pool, whirlpool, outdoor fireplace and seating area. Gardens around these spaces add year-round color. The featured gardens are different in style and will give visitors on the tour a once-a-year opportunity to see landscaping designs in the yards of some of the oldest and most elegant homes in Oklahoma City. Proceeds from the Centennial Historic Homes and Gardens Tour help support education and beautification projects in the community. Tours of the neighborhood began 41 years ago. The Tanenbaums and other families whose homes are included on the tour are busy weeks before the event polishing, painting, planting and preparing for company. In advance of the tour, Tanenbaum invited a member of the Master Gardeners program to tour her garden and identify the trees and plants. She will mark them with stakes so people on the tour will know the proper names of the trees and plants. "That's part of the enjoyment of the tour,” Tanenbaum said. "People are always looking for ideas for their own homes and gardens.”
Historic homes and gardens
•What: Heritage Hills Centennial Historic Homes and Gardens Tour in the Heritage Hills Historic Preservation District. The tour highlights the architectural heritage of the neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Special events include food, music and art. Cheever's Centennial Cafe will serve gourmet items, local musician Mary Reynolds will provide music, and co-authors Paul Lambert and Bob Blackburn will sign copies of their book, "Centennial History of Oklahoma.” A photography exhibit by M.J. Alexander will also be featured. • Where: The tour features six private residences on NW 14 and NW 15 between Shartel and Walker, two private gardens and three historic sites: the Mid-Continent Life Insurance Building, home of the Edward L. Gaylord-Boone Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Center; the Sieber Apartment Hotel; and the Overholser Mansion. • When: Noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 13-14. • Tickets: Advance tickets are $12 through Oct. 12. Tickets are $15 on tour days and will be available at all tour locations. • Parking: Parking is available at the Heritage Center, 1400 Classen Drive. Shuttle transportation is available. • Information: www.oklahomacentennial.com or www. heritagehills.org.