DUNEDIN — Just like on reality TV, workers hustled around the Zimmerman-Boyd-Honey home, trying to get the century-old, three-story charmer ready for its big reveal Saturday.
"I must be insane," chuckled owner Sherry-Lee Cook as she looked at the sawdust, power tools and elaborate schedule of work to be done.
"Really, I just want everyone to see what can be done with an old home," she said.
They'll have their chance.
Saturday, the Dunedin Historic Society presents its sixth biennial Tour of Historic Homes. Dubbed "Homes through the Ages," the tour highlights six homes ranging from the turn of the 19th century to a new "green" home built to look like a 1920s bungalow.
Also on the tour is the lobby of the old Fenway Hotel, staged to look like it did during the Roaring Twenties, as well as two condo models in the new Dunedin Grand.
"It's the first time we've done a tour like this," said Dunedin Historical Museum director Vinnie Luisi. "Usually we pick a certain style like bungalows or Spanish Mediterranean, but the mayor is proclaiming March 6 through the 13th Historic Preservation Week, and we wanted to do something to showcase Dunedin's array of styles."
The self-guided tour runs Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 the day of the tour, if still available. Proceeds benefit the Dunedin Historical Society's educational programs and preservation needs.
The Zimmerman-Boyd-Honey home, built in 1910, is the oldest home on the tour and was home to a Civil War captain and a stationmaster.
Cook, who has a background in real estate and construction, saved the home after it was marked for demolition.
She moved it to 419 Scotland St., where it is getting a half-million dollar makeover: rehabbed heart of pine floors, a new kitchen with a cappuccino nook, four bedrooms, each with its own whirlpool bath and butler's pantry for "milk, cookies, breakfast scones, popcorn," she said.
There's a media room, guesthouse, and a stargazing room. The stairs will have motion-activated night illumination.
With much work yet to do, Cook was confident the house will be ready by Saturday and "staged with comfortable overstuffed furniture."
"This will show that old homes can be brought back to life, you don't have to throw them away," added Luisi.
After the historic Fenway opened in 1925, Carl Sandburg, Babe Ruth and Al Capone were among the many notables to stay in the swanky hotel.
In 1958, the Fenway would see its last guests and reopen later as Trinity College.
Now the Fenway is set to be restored to its former splendor, likely in late 2009 or early 2010, and owner/developer George Rahdert, a St. Petersburg attorney who represents the Times, will present a taste of what's to come.
Recently, a wall was torn down to reveal the original check-in desk with 116 mail slots. The historical museum will furnish historic artifacts for the event, including a guest log from the 1940s, a period typewriter and telephone, ink well and Life magazines.
And, just for the tour, Rahdert is having the current walls, floors and woodwork in the lobby faux-finished in wood grain and filled with period furniture, Oriental rugs, fresh flowers and big palm trees.
It will look quite similar to how it did in its heyday, he said.
A harpist will play period music.
"The historical society has been very supportive," said Rahdert. "This is our chance to give back."
Mike and Susan Wallace estimate 100 people have stopped to ask about their Prairie/Craftsman-style home they've lived in since December 2006.
Now the curious can have their look.
The couple built their dream home on a lot on the edge of Hammock Park. It was designed to recall Mike Wallace's childhood home in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa.
They researched and found the best materials that money could buy, exceeding their budget by a whopping $70,000.
"My emotions got involved," he said with a laugh.
But in the end, they got all the comforts, conveniences and energy efficiency they wanted, while still enjoying the nostalgic charm and character of yesteryear.
"This home was built with history and the future both in mind," he said. "It's also built to be maintenance-free for 30 years."
For example, instead of wood columns in the front, they used those constructed from PVC resin, which won't rot or need paint. Earth-friendly enhancements include an on-demand water heater, natural gas appliances, 6 inches of insulation and double-paned windows. They even capture water runoff from the air conditioning units to water the butterfly garden.
Inside, the home features oodles of nostalgic touches: four-panel doors throughout, Brazilian cherry flooring, cast-iron fireplaces, mission-style furniture, crown moldings, period hardware and cabinetry.
"It just reminds me of my childhood," Wallace said fondly.
"But without all the maintenance."
Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at firstname.lastname@example.org.