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Home built in 1908 on historic tour (w/video)

By JR Ortega
April 1, 2014 at 9:01 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.

Ann Brown talks about the historical significance of her home in Victoria. Her home is a neoclassical house built in 1908. it is one of the homes featured on this weekend's  27th Historic Homes Tour by Victoria Preservation Inc.

The two-story, white, neoclassical home towering above North Vine Street and West Goodwin Avenue is a mansion for many passers-by.

But for Ann and A.C. Brown, it's simply home.

The home, built in 1908, is on Victoria Preservation Inc.'s 27th Historic Homes Tour for the first time in 12 years.

Four other homes are also part of the Saturday and Sunday tour, but the Browns' home - known in the area as the J.V. Vandenberge home - is one of the oldest and least modernized, said Jeff Wright, Victoria Preservation's executive director.

"It was in an excellent state of repair," said Ann Brown from a sturdy armchair in the living room.

Brown, from England, first saw the house in 1958, and she and her husband could not take their eyes off it.

"I just loved it but never thought of living in it," she said. "This house had been quietly on the market for three years."

The home has four bedrooms, all upstairs, with a dining room, breakfast room, living room and sitting room. The house also boasts several closets and two staircases.

For the Browns, though, moving into the house was not about modernizing it; it was about preservation and keeping the home true to its historic roots.

The only renovations the Browns have done is giving the structure a new roof, adding central air and heating, changing the wallpaper and adding their own decorative touch.

Areas of the home are splashed with Ann's portrait work from images of the rolling Guadalupe River to Victoria's historic downtown.

Even two of the home's chandeliers carry history. The two were from the Denver Hotel in Victoria, which collapsed in the 1970s.

"I've always liked this part of town," she said, smiling. "It's nice to be able to walk to town."

The house, Wright said, is one a lot of people in the area recognize. It is also the only home that has been on the tour before this year.

All the homes are west of Moody Street this year, he added.

Ticket holders can go to the houses on the tour as they please and join one of the tours, which is not given by the homeowners but by a guide who understands the history and architecture of the home, Wright said.

Many people, Wright said, have wondered about the homes for so long, so the Historic Homes Tour, which is also the group's biggest fundraiser, is a way to learn more.

"We're satisfying that curiosity they have when they drive by and see these really cool homes," he said.

Four of the homes this year have a bit more of a modern touch, such as Wi-Fi and other renovations, Wright said.

But the Vandenberge home has for the most part stayed the same. The Browns have never even varnished the floorboards, and many of the light switches are push-button, a popular style from the early 1900s.

"That's one of the cool things," Wright said. "We've got these old homes that look like what you would expect, and inside, it's as cool as you would think."



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