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Friends of Westfield Symphony Orchestra Hosts Tour of Notable Homes

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Stained-Glass Windows at LaFetra, Summit
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Friends of Westfield Symphony Orchestra Hosts Tour of Notable Homes
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The Balboni home
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A World Series Trophy adorns the Balboni Home
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A Waterford chandelier in the Clemson home.
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The Clemson Home
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The Wikoff Home
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WESTFIELD, NJ – The Friends of the Westfield Symphony Orchestra presented their annual Tour of Notable Homes on Saturday, June 4th.  Debbie Burslem, home manager at the Kimball Avenue home of Chris and Rose Clemson said, “this year’s fundraising goal for this event is about twenty-thousand dollars. We have great group of supporters and board members and we all contribute to the success of this organization." 

The Clemson Home - Kimball Avenue Historic District, Westfield

Rose Clemson said that her family, including three kids, ages eleven, eight and six along with their welcoming dog, had been in the house since 2002.  The Queen-Anne Victorian built in 1895 features a inviting entry hall, working wood-burning fireplaces, and exquisite display of Baccarat and Waterford chandeliers illuminating the rooms in a warm glow.  Clemson said the “house is very livable and this home reflects how happy everybody is. We love it here. We added to the back of the house in order to make the kitchen larger. The original kitchen was about the size of a closet. In the early days of this house, it was not used as kitchens are today.”

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The Wikoff Home - North Euclid Avenue, Westfield

The second house on the tour, built in the early 20thcentury, is the home of the Wikoff family on North Euclid Avenue. The front of the home includes a wrap-around porch adorned with the classic porch swing, inviting you to enjoy tea or relax with a good book.  The jewel of this home is the fabulous garden featuring peonies, roses and a wonderful wisteria vine.  Along the path from the flower garden is a stone fountain with Koi and a tranquil lily pond. At the rear of the property is the swimming pool, down on a lower terrace.  The home has a variety of styles including a 1960’s style basement and rec room along with a multitude of storage space for the children’s toys and games. The color patterns in the house feature soft and muted greens, browns and touches of red.

The Gearhart Home - Chestnut Street, Westfield

The third home on this tour was the Gearhart residence on Chestnut Street.  Built in 2006, this Westfield Tudor-style home features a center hall, greeting you with a sense of openness.  The rooms are bright and inviting, all in white, with touches of pale blues, blush pinks and taupe tones.  The organic garden to the rear of the property displays a wonderful aroma of dill, basil, cucumber and tomatoes.  The kitchen has a unique stainless steel work island, state-of-the art appliances along with the family daily calendar posted full of activities to keep this busy family on task.  This three-story home, room enough for three children and plenty of guests, also has a relaxing patio and play area for the children to enjoy outdoor activities. 

The Len-Hindel Mansion - Ridge Road, Summit

The Len-Hendel home, at the corner of Summit Avenue at 26 Ridge Road in Summit, was designed by Henry Bacon, architect of the Lincoln Memorial.  This massive residence was the home of H.A. LaFetra, chairman of the Nabisco Corporation, the McGraw family of McGraw-Hill Publishing, as well as the Reed family, of the Reeves-Reed Arboretum and the Whitsell family. 

The entrance to the home features a custom-painted tile “piazza” floor, opening to the main hall. The living room contains one of six working fireplaces in the home with hand carved rare chestnut paneling and mantle. The dining room just to the right of the entry hall is capable of seating anywhere from twelve to sixteen guests. The highlight of this home has to be the grand staircase of hand-carved Brazilian rosewood leading to a magnificent landing of nine stunning stained-glass window panels, spanning twelve feet.  The upper floors feature suites of bedrooms and baths, sitting areas and multiple fireplaces along with beautiful views of Summit and the surrounding property.  To the rear of the home are the original front doors which lead to the former carriage path and Zen garden to the side yard. The kitchen, updated for a modern family, is equipped with granite countertops, Sub-Zero appliances and a comfortable sitting area with a home theater.

The Balboni Home - Burlington Road, Berkeley Heights

The final home on the tour is the residence of the Balboni family, of Berkeley Heights.  The Victorian home, with Italianate elements stands on a rise that looks out over the valley and Kittatinny Mountain range.  Built in 1863 as a summer home for a wealthy New Yorker, it contained forty acres which were the site of the Summit Golf Club and the Murray Hill Golf Club.  The home, the original clubhouse, fell in to disrepair and was nearly demolished when the economy failed and golfing activities subsided.

For the last twenty years, it has been the home of legendary major league first baseman, Steve Balboni, wife Eve and their three sons, who restored the home to the jewel it is today.  Sitting atop a grand hill, the entryway to the home opens up to a main hallway with a soaring thirteen foot ceiling. The home features relaxing colors, peach and yellow tones and warm browns, designed to be comfortable and inviting to anyone who enters. 

Just outside the gourmet eat-in-kitchen is the most recent addition to the home, the grand portico, designed by James J. Ramentol of GRA Architects. It is a perfect area for entertaining guests, enjoying an outdoor lunch with friends or a quiet dinner at home, al-fresco. 

The home's three floors feature an office and workout room for the baseball star, a working design room for Mrs. Balboni, a noted jewelry designer, and of course, what no major leaguer could be without, a batting cage on the beautifully landscaped grounds. One of the highlights on the tour of the home just happened to be a print of the 1985 World Series winners, the Kansas City Royals, as well as a World Series trophy, won by Balboni's team against the St. Louis Cardinals.

About The Westfield Symphony Orchestra – www.westfieldsymphony.org

The Westfield Symphony Orchestra is among New Jersey’s premiere fully professional symphony orchestras. Founded in 1983 by New Jersey citizens who believed that the expression of history and culture through the performance of symphonic music adds value to the quality of community life, WSO has grown to become New Jersey’s second largest professional orchestra, having a presence throughout the cultural communities of New Jersey, and appearing as far afield as Carnegie Hall on a regular basis.  

Now moving into its 26th season, with multiple performances, the Symphony is viewed as one of the cultural jewels of the metropolitan area. Cited by the Star Ledger as “the leading professional freelance orchestra in NJ”, WSO is recognized by the NJ State Council on the Arts as a Distinguished Arts Organization and is the resident orchestra of Union County. In 2009, the WSO was further honored with a Citation of Excellence from NJSCA. In addition to an adventurous subscription season, popular concerts near and far, and a renowned New Year’s Eve celebration, the WSO sponsors educational programs for school students throughout the state of New Jersey.

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