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If you go
What: West Central Neighborhood’s Home & Garden Tour & Arts Fest
Where: Tour and Arts Fest primarily between College, Berry and Jackson streets and Jefferson Boulevard
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today
How much: $15 for a ticket to the Home & Garden Tour; Arts Fest is free
For more information:
Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
The Swinney Homestead at 1424 W. Jefferson Blvd. is a featured home in the West Central Neighborhood’s Home & Garden Tour & Arts Fest. The expanded Arts Fest has brought new people to the tour.

Arts-enhanced West Central tour turns 30

What was originally an office in the Swinney Homestead is now a parlor and reflects the period in which the home was built.
An upstairs bathroom in the home at 1116 W. Washington Blvd., owned by Leith and Mary Ann Rice, reflects the character of the Queen Anne-Tudor home built in 1887 and first owned by Thomas Rodabaugh.
The home at 1127 W. Wayne St. features large bedrooms with open spaces. The 30th annual West Central Neighborhood’s Home & Garden Tour & Arts Fest continues today.
The living room in the home at 1127 W. Wayne St., owned by Karen Moriarty, features patterns and character. The home was built for Emily Rockhill.

– Rachel Rayburn and Jorden Halstead started renting in the West Central neighborhood of downtown Fort Wayne last year. Saturday afternoon, as they walked the home and garden tour, they shared their hope that next year their home can be on the tour.

And why not? Strangers already knock on the door and ask to see inside the home.

“People do stop, and they want to see your house,” Halstead said.

“And we let them in,” Rayburn said.

This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the West Central Neighborhood’s Home & Garden Tour & Arts Fest. Eleven homes throughout the neighborhood have opened their doors to invite neighbors and more to peek into their parlors, cavort in their kitchens and admire the detail in the wooden staircases.

The must-stop home, those associated with the walk point out, is stop No. 1 at 915 W. Berry St. Michael Anderson, past president of the West Central Neighborhood Association and current West Central resident, remodeled the home for his parents, Judy and Don Anderson.

Before Michael Anderson got his hands on it, the half of the home that houses the Andersons had been split into seven different units. Today, the home is a cohesive, single-family residence.

But the real reason to take the home and garden tour, Michael Anderson said, is to experience West Central’s way of life.

“One thing we’re trying to push is what it’s like to live down here,” he said. “This is our lifestyle choice. Come and join us.”

Over the past 30 years, the biggest change the home walk has seen, Michael Anderson said, is the expansion of the Arts Fest.

What started as an event in someone’s backyard with maybe two vendors and a bass player now takes up both sides of an entire city block, said Steve Miranda, who coordinates the Arts Fest.

“I think from when we expanded it, we’ve had such a bigger crowd,” he said.

This year marks the third for the Arts Fest in its current incarnation, and Miranda said 42 vendors had signed up, some from as far as Angola, Anderson and Michigan.

Tiffany Craig has set up for all three of the expanded events. Her booth is for Salamonie Products, a company she runs with her husband. The two make and sell custom metal art from their home.

They use a plasma cutter, which is like a torch, to cut the intricate designs and create the outdoor sculptures, like the rustic preying mantis or the “Awww!”-inducing pipe-for-a-body dachshund.

“(The Arts Fest) adds a whole new dimension” to the house walk, Craig said. “People get exposed to different kids of art. The fact that a lot of the artists are local shows you can shop local.”

Plus, Michael Anderson pointed out, the Arts Fest attracts an entirely different audience. The home and garden walk, for example, tends to draw an older crowd.

“Not many young people want to go spelunking through homes and say, ‘Oh, look. Are those by Martha Stewart?’ (The Arts Fest) brings a different dynamic and demographic,” he said. “It makes this whole weekend more appealing to a different age group.”