Summer Tour Series in Springfield resets this week

Tours will be more intimate with smaller groups.

Call it a reset, a fresh take on the familiar that combines history, architecture and socializing into one package each warm-weather season.

The Westcott Center for Architecture + Design’s 2021 Summer Tour Series will debut Friday with nine programs over two months that can enhance appreciation of Springfield’s surroundings and history.

As it has so many things over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has also shaped the Tour Series for this year and the future. Springfield historian and primary tour guide Kevin Rose saw it as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.

“We’re really excited to be back,” Rose said. “This is something we’ve been looking at doing for a while. It will be a different series with fewer guides and a stepping stone going forward.”

Rose and collaborators have streamlined the tours to have about 15 people as a target number for each. This way the tours can be more intimate experiences instead of a large crowd of up to 35 who guides practically have to shout to be heard.

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There will also be more of an emphasis on socialization. Past tours that have included a stop at a local restaurant or pub proved popular and that will be incorporated more and known as “Happy Hour Tours,” hour-long programs starting at 5:30 p.m. on weeknights near a centralized location.

Walking tours will be 10 a.m. to noon Saturday mornings and include several stops.

Rose and wife, Marta Wojcik, began planning back in January and came up with what he calls a “greatest hits” series of tours that got positive responses. Most tours haven’t been done in the past four years or longer.

“We tried to plan this around multiple audiences, a tour for each crowd,” Rose said. “People who like Victorian architecture will enjoy that tour or anyone who likes clean lines and no ornamentation will prefer the modernist tour.”

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This series will be strictly Springfield-based, no out-of-town adventures this time out. Some tours will be repeated.

Tours include:

  • Friday and Aug. 20: Springfield Burying Ground (Happy Hour Tour)
  • July 24: Gilded East High Street (Walking Tour)
  • Aug. 6: Public Art Crawl (Happy Hour Tour)
  • Aug. 11 and Sept. 15: Downtown Victorian (Happy Hour Tour)
  • Aug. 14: Ferncliff Cemetery, Sacred and Symbolic (Walking Tour)
  • Aug. 28: South Fountain Historic District (Walking Tour)
  • Sept. 3: Downtown Modern (Happy Hour Tour)

For more information on the programs and ticket prices, see the Westcott House website. Interested people should purchase their tickets early. Tickets are only available online.

“This is a way to get us out of our homes and into shared interests again. (Happy Hour Tours) are also a great time to also get something to eat or drink and just make an evening of it,” Rose said.

Free virtual tours will also return later this summer. Check the Westcott House website for details.

HOW TO GO

What: 2021 Summer Tour Series

Where: Various locations in Springfield

When: Friday to Sept. 15

Admission: Prices vary by tour

More info: www.westcotthouse.org

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