In 2001, when Jose and Corinne Bello decided to buy a dilapidated Mediterranean Revival-style home here with no air conditioning, their families begged them to reconsider. "It was in ruins," said Jose, an architectural artist who restores homes. "It was sad." Sad perhaps, but not without hope.
The 1920s house, once the model home for Dunedin Isles developer Edward Frischkorn, boasted a barrel tile roof and a delightful courtyard with gallant archways. It's adorned with wrought iron accents and heavy wood moldings.
A second-story balcony overlooks the great room, which is anchored by a massive cast concrete fireplace. That balcony is where the Bellos' daughter, Catiana, a freshman at the Boston Conservatory, grew up singing her musical theater tunes.
Over the years, the Bellos have restored the home to its former splendor and on Saturday, those with tickets can see the result during the Dunedin Historical Society's 2011 Tour of Historic Homes.
Six other notable homes and significant structures, built between the 1880s and the 1960s, will help mark this, the seventh biennial tour.
Stops include a 1910 Cracker-style home built by the Garrisons, one of Dunedin's founding families, and the 1915 waterfront homestead of world-renowned naturalist William Blatchley, now a part of Weaver Park.
There's a charming 1920s home on red-bricked Scotland Street and a Spanish Trails beauty.
Two other structures of historical significance that have been saved from demolition are the 1889 chapel at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd and the original 1926 auditorium of Dunedin's first junior high, now known as Curtis Fundamental Elementary School.
Musical entertainment will be featured at the church and the school auditorium, where many Dunedin residents will remember seeing or performing in their first plays or concerts.
"In the past we've had bungalow themes and Mediterranean themes," said Sandra Kinzer, administrative assistant at the Dunedin Historical Museum. "This year we're focused on historical merit."
The most modern of the structures is a 1960s two-story colonial frame home owned by Gregory and Elizabeth Murtagh. They've expanded the original 3,200-square-foot house by almost 2,000 square feet and created a showplace by knocking down walls and adding large windows, French doors, skylights, coffered and beamed ceilings, columns and bookcases, moldings and paneling.
The home, located in the Spanish Trails neighborhood, also showcases Liz Murtagh's art work, a vibrant collection of red roses, horses and dogs.
"Everything we did was to make it feel like this house has been here forever," said Liz, owner of the Liz Murtagh Gallery and Boutique. "I grew up in Connecticut and Long Island and this is what I loved. It's my idea of architectural paradise."
The tour runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and includes a refreshment stop at the First Presbyterian Church on Scotland Street for finger food, cookies and tea. The church, built in 1926, is centrally located among the homes on the tour.
Tickets are $20. Proceeds benefit the Dunedin Historical Museum.
The folks there are hoping ticket sales will top $10,000 —and $15,000 would be even better.
"We really need for this fundraiser to be a success," said Vinnie Luisi, the museum's executive director. "The state and county funding is drying up and we want to be able to support the programs and keep the museum open at a professional level."