WESTFIELD, NJ — The Friends of the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, based in Westfield, are gearing up for their annual Tour of Notable Homes on May 7, Saturday of Mother’s Day Weekend. Five of the area’s most grand residences will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to benefit the New Jersey Festival Orchestra.

This year’s tour includes a sprawling contemporary “smart house” recreated on the footprint of a demolished dwelling; a stately English Tudor situated on “splendid” grounds on one of Westfield’s most prestigious avenues; a classically proportioned Westfield residence recently transformed into an “entertainer’s paradise”; and two Colonial revival residences situated in the heart of the Plainfield historic district.

“We consider our home a historical gift lent to us for a period of time that we want to share with others,” said Peter Price, whose stately Plainfield center hall Colonial, circa 1896, is located in the Hillside Avenue Historic District. “The Tour of Notable Homes allows us to open our doors to house tour guests to experience the amazing cultural, architectural and social aspects of the Queen City of Plainfield all for the benefit of NJFO.”

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The Tour of Notable Homes has been a Westfield tradition for many years, signifying the arrival of spring and celebrating the beauty and architecture of many Westfield area homes. Over the years the tour has grown to include unique and gracious homes in bordering towns including Scotch Plains and historic Plainfield.

“That’s what makes this tour a must-see seasonal event.” said Price, who is president of the Hillside Avenue Historic District. “We are so proud to be a part of this event and were delighted to be chosen by the NJFO selection committee as one of the notable home on this year's tour."

The New Jersey Festival Orchestra, formelly called the Westfield Symphony, has a mission to promote the world’s legacy of symphonic and operatic music to audiences, involving them in a rich heritage through a diversity of innovative musical and multi-dimensional artistic experiences that stretch the boundaries of traditional classical performances. It also takes educational and mentoring initiatives and facilitates performances to physically, mentally and economically disadvantaged people in New Jersey.

“We live in some very complex times and the ability to continue to share in the joy of music and culture is important now more than ever,” Price said.

The Price family has now had two houses on tour, and the relationship between home owners and those who tour the houses can be mutually beneficial, Price explained.

“House tours attract many interesting people with varied interests and backgrounds,” he said. “Many want intimate details on the history and past owners and what made us choose the house. Our first Plainfield home was on a house tour many years ago and we loved answering guests' questions back then and we anticipate having the same interest on this tour.  We often will see folks from the past tour in the grocery store or around town and they will stop us and continue the conversation about the house from the day of the tour. It's a wonderful feeling and a sense of achievement to know that we shared our home and passions for the benefit of others.”

The tour will also offer live music, a Mother’s Day plant sale of seasonal blooms and herb baskets, refreshments, luxury raffles (including "Win a Tesla for the Day") and a specialty car stationed at all locations. 

Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 on tour day. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.njfestivalorcherstra.org.

A frequent contributor to TAP into Westfield, Mike Cohen is the founder/director of Throwback Sports the sports editor for Education Update. He can be reached at throwbacksports@verizon.net.