Aaron Carruthers and Keith Haberstock moved to Curtis Park because they liked the old neighborhood. Besides historic Sacramento homes and shaded streets, they found what they liked best were great neighbors.
“What’s the best thing about Curtis Park? The neighbors,” Carruthers said. “We like the style and character of the homes; we like the neighborhood. It’s a great place to live. But we love our neighbors.”
Thankfully, the couple get along wonderfully with their next-door neighbors on both sides; these three bungalows on Marshall Way practically touch.
“When we needed a new roof, we all got our roofs done at the same time,” Carruthers said. “The roofers said they were so close together, they didn’t have to touch the ground to get from one house to the other. And we got a group discount.”
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So naturally, when one neighbor agreed to participate on next weekend’s Curtis Park Home Tour, the other homeowners – including Carruthers and Haberstock – jumped in, too.
“This is really marvelous for us,” said Janice Calpo, who helps recruit homes for the annual tour. “This is the first time in 29 years we’ve had three houses like this together. They’re similar, but all individual. It means so much to see them side by side by side.”
The three homes are craftsman bungalows, built shortly after the Curtis Park sidewalks were laid circa 1912.
“When we had to take up some pavement (outside their home), we found this old horse hitch,” Carruthers said, pointing to a large ring in the new curbside concrete. “That’s when you used to park your horse out front instead of a car. We had it reinstalled as a nod to the neighborhood’s beginnings.”
Speaking of cars, one antique carriage house serves as garage to two homes. “It’s a good thing we all get along,” Carruthers said with a smile.
During this tour, the Carruthers-Haberstock house is celebrating its centennial. It was built to order in 1915.
“You could order whatever floor plan you wanted,” Carruthers said as he flipped through a book with reproductions of bungalow floor plans. “Our home probably was in the $3,000 to $3,500 range.”
Filled with craftsman features such as a lustrous oak floors and built-in hutch with leaded pane windows, the two-bedroom home now is worth 100 times that, or more.
“We think of ourselves as stewards of the house,” Haberstock said. “Hopefully, it will still be here long after we’re gone.”
Haberstock and Carruthers recently repainted the exterior, lovingly bringing out the bungalow’s architectural highlights.
“It was only painted twice before in 100 years,” Carruthers said. “Most of that time, it was all white. We call this (new) color cocktail olive green with spice-berry red highlights.”
Neighbor Branden Tillman helped pick out the colors, Carruthers noted. Next door, Tillman was busily sanding and painting his own porch.
A lot of last-minute sprucing went into their walk-up to the tour, when an estimated 1,000 patrons will walk through their homes.
In these final days, the pressure was on as these neighbors rushed to put the finishing touches on their bungalows and gardens. As her husband worked on the porch, Terrah Tillman unloaded mulch and flowers to perk up the front walkway of their house.
“We want to be part of the community,” said Terrah, as she juggled 6-week-old son Hudson as well as plants. “They (the organizers) had approached us before about being on the tour. This seemed like good timing now, at least as good as it can be (with a new baby).”
The closeness of the three homes strengthens the camaraderie among neighbors, she noted. “These guys (next door) are always doing things around their house; they’re so inspirational. But we’re also all good friends. It’s like neighborhoods back in the day. You can borrow a cup of sugar, then pop back over with cookies. We’ve had progressive dinners where we went from house to house. It’s really fun to have neighbors like that.”
Peggy Collins, who lives on the west side, helped them bring out the arts-and-crafts character in their own home, said Carruthers, as he pointed out light fixtures and other touches. His and Haberstock’s home features several pieces of Stickley oak furniture (both old and new) as well as more modern pieces.
“It’s so hard to get the right balance between old and new,” Carruthers said. “We don’t want to live in a museum. We want the house to be transitional, but we also want to make sure everything feels like it belongs here.”
In the kitchen, the vintage 1950s O’Keefe & Merritt stove gleams like brand new. It came with the house, Haberstock said.
“We love the ‘Grillevator’ (built-in adjustable broiler)” he said. “Our dog loves the built-in heater (which blows warm air at ankle level).
“It’s great on a cold morning,” Carruthers added.
Their teenage son, Jeremiah, has an airy bedroom with eight large windows looking out over the shaded backyard. All the rooms seem sunny despite the house being surrounded by mature trees. Filled with light, the small home feels much larger than its modest footprint.
“It’s a two-bedroom house, but it seems so much bigger,” said Calpo, the tour recruiter. “Whoever designed it was really smart. It has such wonderful flow.”
Large porches span the widths of the front of each home, uniting them like three sisters.
“It’s almost like we have one long porch that reaches across all three houses,” Carruthers said. “We love being out here in the evening.”
On the side of their house, Carruthers and Haberstock added a pop-out deck, big enough for six people. It’s become a gathering spot, not just for them but their neighbors.
29TH ANNUAL CURTIS PARK HOME TOUR
Where: Start at Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th St., Sacramento
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 25
Admission: $25 in advance; $30 day of tour
Highlights: Besides seven beautifully restored homes, this community event includes a large festival in Curtis Park itself with live music, vendors, antique cars, artists, food trucks and more.