The stately yellow house on 43rd Street has always been known as a model home. A little luck and detective work confirmed that reputation.
Since 1922, it’s been a keystone for its shady block in East Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties neighborhood. When it was built, it beckoned hopeful residents to the city’s “finest home section.”
“Here is where you undoubtedly will wish to live,” boasted a 1922 advertisement in The Sacramento Bee, under the headline “See the Home Beautiful.”
Now nearly a century later, that Home Beautiful can still draw a crowd. It will be one of five featured stops on the 42nd annual Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour, set for Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6.
For many Sacramento residents, this tour has become a holiday tradition, attracting up to 5,000 patrons to see local homes at their seasonal finest. Proceeds support programs at the neighborhood’s Sacred Heart School.
“It really launches us into the holiday season,” said designer Kerrie Kelly, who has helped decorate the tour’s homes for several years. “It’s one of those wonderful traditions that we can share with the people we love.”
Among the tour’s designers were the Kerrie Kelly Design Lab plus Haus Home and Gift, Zina Sheya Designs and Design Alchemy. Like its eclectic neighborhood, the featured homes come in several styles. from contemporary Prairie Modern to classic Colonial, with decorations to match.
To bring yet more of a historic touch, vintage cars will line the streets during the tour. Among them will be Gayle Cowen’s 1941 red Chevrolet Cabriolet.
“It’s a survivor,” said Cowen said after pulling into the 43rd Street home’s driveway. “It cost $980 new. This is my first time taking part in the tour. But my kids went to Sacred Heart.”
Connections to the school and neighborhood annually pull people together for the tour, noted co-chairperson Brooke Mathios. “We’re very blessed that neighbors are willing to open up their homes to help our school.”
Finding the right homes for the tour is always a challenge, she noted. That makes her committee grateful for homeowners such as Wade and Jackie Johnson, who took the tour for the first time last year and were immediately enchanted.
They have no connection to Sacred Heart School, but the Johnsons wanted to give back to their neighborhood and saw the holiday tour as the perfect vehicle.
“This is my grown-up house,” said Jackie Johnson of their 43rd Street home. “After raising five kids in Lodi, this is the house I always wanted. I truly feel it’s a blessing. We really enjoy living here. Everybody has been amazing from the first day we moved in.”
Wade Johnson, an electrical contractor, was tired of commuting from Lodi to Sacramento, and the couple bought the 43rd Street house in 2012. Their youngest daughter, Analise, wanted to finish high school in Lodi so the family didn’t move in until after her graduation in 2014. Meanwhile, the house got a room-by-room makeover, enhancing its already good looks while also modernizing its space.
Kelly also worked on the interior design for the 43rd Street house. Soft blues and yellows tie the rooms together. (Kelly chose Sherwin-Williams’ Atmosphere, Morning Sun and Buff as the main paint colors.) The dining room walls are covered in chambray textured paper, contrasting with such luxe touches as crystal chandeliers and metallic-toned accessories.
“Our old house in Lodi was all green,” Jackie Johnson said. “My husband’s only request was no more green.”
The bare concrete basement became a welcoming game and multimedia room where Analise, now a Sacramento City College sophomore, could hang out with friends.
“When we bought the house, the basement was a scary place,” Jackie Johnson said. “Even the dog wouldn’t come down here.”
Washer and dryer moved upstairs to a second-floor closet, close to the four bedrooms. The kitchen evolved from a tight galley to an open layout with sunny breakfast nook as well as marble and black granite counters.
Smalls the dog (a Shih tzu-Bichon mix) got his own little door and ramp to the backyard. Outside, an overhang now shades the poolside patio, surrounded by old brick and water-wise landscaping.
“In the summer, this is where we spend every evening,” Jackie Johnson said of the patio.
When the Johnsons bought the house, they thought it was built in 1938; that’s what the title said.
During renovations, they found clues that the house was actually much older. While swapping out mantles over the fireplace, discount tickets to the Alhambra Theater fell out of a nook. The tickets were marked with a 1931 expiration date.
That got the Johnsons curious. A neighbor who had lived nearby for decades mentioned that the house had been a model home for builders Wright & Kimbrough, who developed the East Sacramento tract.
Flipping through old bound copies of The Bee, Jackie Johnson discovered the advertisement for her home, dated Oct. 14, 1922. (Nearby lots were listed at $1,400.)
That was all the proof they needed. Her “grown-up house” was indeed Home Beautiful – and a perfect fit for the holiday tour.
“I love the neighbors, I love the neighborhood,” Jackie Johnson said. “We do so much together. Many of our neighbors have lived here many years and are very familiar with this house.
“They’re looking forward to seeing what we did with it.”
42nd Annual Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour
Where: Five homes in East Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties neighborhood. Start at Sacred Heart School, 39th and H streets, Sacramento.
When: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4-6
Admission: $30 before Friday, Dec. 4; $35 on tour days
Details and tickets: sacredhearthometour.com
Plus: Sacred Heart School will host a boutique and cafe during the tour.