As housing prices soared in recent years, so did the popularity of home tours, most of them featuring exquisite restorations or new, expansive kitchens and baths.
It was a chance to peek into mansions, search for design ideas or just see how the renovated half lived.
Times have changed, so Tampa's popular spring home tours have adjusted.
History and architecture, rather than shiny new counters or gleaming baths, will be the stars of upcoming tours, including the Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood home tour Saturday and the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association tour April 5.
In both cases, the focus will be squarely on the stories behind the homes, the diversity of architectural styles and the details, be they original or in some cases, meticulously copied.
For the first time, the Hyde Park event will include a three-hour historic preservation course separate from the standard walking tour. The class is open to anyone but is designed as a continuing-education course for architects and interior designers.
The intent of this year's tour is "really to bring a more communitywide awareness of historic preservation, not only for Hyde Park but the whole Tampa Bay community," said Del Acosta, an architectural historian and Hyde Park resident who will help teach the historic preservation course. "We're trying to educate people."
That doesn't mean the tour is skipping the eye candy. Ruth and Martin Silbiger will welcome participants into their sprawling Bayshore Boulevard home, which was built in 1990 to re-create Rosalie Mansion, a national historic landmark on the Mississippi River.
The 4,800-square-foot home and guest house were built in the classical revival style with Georgian influences. While the interior was designed for modern living, the exterior, moldings and entrance gate replicate those of the 1823 mansion in Natchez, Miss.
There are a few other large homes on this year's Hyde Park tour, but many are modestly sized, Acosta said. His own home — a Mediterranean revival style built in 1997 — will appear, as will the house next door, a 750-square-foot 1925 bungalow owned by Acosta's son.
The one-bedroom Bristol Avenue bungalow, a catalog house, has been restored, and the woman who rents it has "very lovingly" furnished it for today's living, Acosta said.
"We're trying to showcase how the average person can get a historic home and adapt it to contemporary use and live quite well," Acosta said.
That philosophy has long been in practice in Old Seminole Heights, where bungalows and other early 20th century homes have been carefully restored.
The neighborhood's 11th annual home tour will showcase 13 properties from the earliest days of the neighborhood, which was platted in 1911.
The tour will feature 11 homes and two buildings, including the recently renovated Hillsborough High School.
At least one of the homes featured on the tour appeared in the winter 2008 edition of American Bungalow.
Tour organizers were inspired by the popularity of a documentary on Seminole Heights released last year.
Each building will be described architecturally, and information on the history of the house's occupants will be included when possible.
Four trolleys will transport visitors, and trolley guides will offer glimpses into Seminole Heights history.
"One of the houses we are featuring, and I can't give away too many of the details, was the house of someone who ran for governor of Florida," said Eric Krause, chairman of this year's tour. "He lost and left the state, but a lot of interesting people came off this one particular street."