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Martinez Historical Society Home Tour

Oct 04, 2017 11:37AM ● By Elena Hutslar

Fun, Funky, and Small: Exploring Portugeuse Flats

With fall approaching, preparation for the 11th Annual Martinez Historical Society Home Tour is in progress. The Tour will take place on Saturday, October 14, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The starting point will be the 1937 Shell Clubhouse at 1635 Pacheco Boulevard, which itself has a wonderful Arts & Crafts interior.  Bus transportation will be provided, but visitors will also have the option of driving their own cars. 

On the Tour this year are seven privately owned residences and gardens in the historic district of Martinez known as Portuguese Flats.  Once visitors arrive in this district, they will have the option of walking from house to house.  

Each house in Portuguese Flats is unique in some way.  For example, a 1920 Craftsman house still has many of its original features including a California Cooler – which predates the advent of modern refrigerators.  Another home, a classic 1912 Craftsman bungalow, is the site of a real life love story.  Today’s owners met at a party in this house 42 years ago when single.  They fell in love, married, and when they saw the house where they first met on the market, they bought it.  A 1937 house on the Tour is owned by a couple who have integrated their skull collection into the otherwise conventional décor.   The house also has a music room where the husband, who has been signed by a major record label, will display his collection of guitars. 

“These homes fit the theme of the Tour,” said Home Tour Chair, Carolyn Duncan,  “which is Fun, Funky and Small.  Many young couples have been purchasing, renovating, and upgrading the homes in Portuguese Flats.  We hope that the Home Tour will encourage even more to do so.” 

Also on the Tour is the historic Mormon Chapel built in 1939/1940 by the Latter Day Saints.  The chapel was constructed entirely with volunteer labor except for the roof and the heating systems.  This building is now home to the Martinez Early Childhood Center.  The grounds are designed with pathways which enable the youngsters to walk through and enjoy a butterfly garden and an herb garden.

Another added attraction is a Zen Garden (Japanese Rock Garden) that a creative homeowner placed on the flat roof of her garage to improve the view from her hillside house.  These gardens are composed of specimen rocks surrounded by gravel, raked to represent ripples in water.

There will also be a vintage travel trailer on the Tour, which will be open for viewing.  This trailer was built in 1963 by the Silver Streak Trailer Company, a firm that built aluminum clad trailers for 47 years, but unfortunately went out of business in 1996.  “These trailers look very retro now,” said John Curtis, President of the Martinez Historical Society, “but in their heyday they were considered to be sleek and streamlined.” 

Musicians will be stationed at many of the houses to entertain tour goers.  “The Home Tour gives these local musicians the opportunity to showcase their talent.” said Bruce Campbell who lines up the performers for the day. “And the music is a great addition to the event.”

Antique automobiles will be parked outside the homes.  Booths set up by various organizations will dot the route as well.

To learn more about the Historic Home Tour, please visit


Tickets can be purchased online $25 by credit card.  Tickets are also available from the following merchants (cash or check):

  • Char’s Flower Shoppe, 635 Main Street
  • I’ve Been Framed, 411 Ferry Street
  • Peirano Jewelers (Nob Hill Supermarket Shopping Center)
  • The UPS Store (Lucky Supermarket Shopping Center)

Day-of-the-event tickets are $30.  Discounted tickets are available at the Farmers Market each Sunday on Main Street for $20 at the Martinez Historical Society booth.


The sponsors of the Tour enable the Historical Society to keep the ticket prices low.  The Society requests that tour goers support these generous companies when possible.

  • Shell Martinez Refinery
  • Cole Real Estate
  • Community Focus
  • Republic Services
  • Shell Martinez Chemical Co.
  • Shell Western States Credit Union
  • Hagin’s Automotive
  • Bisio & Dunivan
  • Les Schwab Tire of Martinez
  • Ecomulch
  • Web4Homes, Kevin Murray, Realtor
  • Schroder Insurance Services
  • Edward Jones, John Fuller, Financial Advisor
  • IBEW Local No. 32
  • City of Martinez