PHOTOS: Hundreds tour “Cult of Beauty” homes


The 42nd annual Takoma Park House and Garden Tour took place on May 3, 2015, and a more picture-perfect spring day could not have been wished for! The tour offered a chance to imagine life in the newly-incorporated Takoma Park of 1890.

The major theme of this year’s tour were homes built during the Aesthetic Movement. That movement held the sunflower up as the emblem of good taste and while it was far too early in the season to find any growing in the gardens along the tour, the flower was reflected in decorative motifs in many of the homes. They are even incorporated in the designs of the radiator covers at the Cady Lee Mansion.


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According to Diana Kohn of Historic Takoma Inc., the tour sponsor organization, “Each house had its own story to tell. Benjamin Franklin Gilbert’s house burned down a century ago, but there were two houses on the tour with connections to him – one built by his niece and the other belonging to the man who succeeded him as Mayor of Takoma Park.”

Tour-goers discovered colorful characters like Ben Davis, the town clerk who stored the official records in his house because there was no town hall, and J.J. Snodgrass, who donated space in his house for the town’s first school. Tour visitors also saw modern furnishings and upgrades in many of the older homes, which have gone through several generations of use and survived.


Photo by Jay Kelller.

The Aestheticism movement was also called, “The Cult of Beauty” and for several hundred tour visitors it was certainly an afternoon of immersion in some of the most stunning homes that our community has to offer. Make plans to experience the tour next year on the first Sunday of May!

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About the Author

Kathy Jentz
Kathy Jentz is editor of Washington Gardener magazine and is a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Washington Gardener is all about gardening where you live. She can be reached at @WDCgardener on Twitter and welcomes your local DMV gardening questions.