Springfield walking tours return this summer

Get out your walking shoes, pump up the bike tires and fire up the buses. Touring season is upon us.

Summer in Springfield means the return of The Westcott House for Architecture and Design’s 13th Summer Tour Series, beginning Wednesday, June 8.

This year’s series will offer 18 different tours examining the region’s architecture, design and history. It will also include several new tours, the return of three tours and several others.

In addition to site, walking and bicycle tours, a bus coach tour was added for the first time.

Program director Kevin Rose, who has been with the series since it began, said he’s proud of its longevity and growth.

“We’ve got a lot of amazing things, it’s our most ambitious season yet, ” he said “It is almost completely different every time, that’s what makes it special. Of these tours, 15 were not offered last year.”

Tours are Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m., also known as Happy Hour Tours, and Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., although not always on consecutive weeks.

Rose said it takes a lot to put the tours together, but they are a labor of love for those involved. Organizers go to the primary sources as a basis.

“There’s a lot of research and time but in, ” said Rose. “It’s always from scratch, always from primary source documents, not second-hand sources. I love it when people on the tours say, ‘I never realized that.’ We say that a lot too.”

The tours are conducted by architects, curators, historians and local professionals.

Some of the new tours have been in discussion for years, such as the Mansions of Chillicothe Street walking tour, which takes the series to South Charleston for the first time on Saturday, July 16. Another is the Broadmoors walking tour on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Other new tours including Wittenberg’s Weaver Chapel, a site tour that kicks off the series, Wednesday, June 8; the Architecture of William K. Schilling, a bicycle tour on Saturday, July 9; St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church, a site tour on Saturday, July 27; and The Genius of Charles A. Creagar, who was a local architect, and this season’s coach tour on Saturday, Sept. 3 at the special time of 9:30 a.m.

Rose added that even tours offered previously will have different slants to keep them fresh to help broaden its audience.

Tours can range from an hour-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours.

Rose said there’s never a shortage of interesting places to visit and the committee has planned out as far as two years in advance.

“We’re not scratching our heads each year how to continue the series, ” he said.

Tours are individual, no season passes, and prices vary according to tour. Rose encourages interested people to purchase tickets early as many tours sell out and they could be turned away.

Information on each tour and whether it is a site, walking, bicycle or coach tour are listed on the Westcott House website, www.westcotthouse.org/tour/walking#load.

For more information, call 937-327-9291.

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