By Lisa Cerquiera
Save the date for Bedford's annual Suzanne & Company Holiday House Tour, Sunday, Dec 15 from 1 to 4pm. Get into the holiday spirit and jingle all the way while visiting a variety of delightfully decorated homes in Bedford.
This year's tour includes one of Bedford's landmark homes -the big green farmhouse on Davis Road. The Victorian farmhouse with a wrap-around porch on the top of the hill was built in 1910 by Charles Clark with lumber milled at the historic Bacon Fitch Ashby Clark Mill just outside Bedford center, with handcrafted period details including beautifully carved moldings, casings, newel posts and spindles. It sits on a two acre lot that backs onto the many acres of the Clark Conservation Area land behind it, and it's across the street from the Little Meadow Conservation Area and the Concord River, so it has a wooded feel - including frequent visits from deer and coyotes.
The Clark family had a long history in Bedford - according to the April 20, 2011 newsletter of the Bedford Historical Society, the mill was purchased by Charles Clark in 1874 and then sold by the Clark family to the town of Bedford in 1945. The mill and dam were destroyed in 1947 to provide better drainage for the development of Hanscom Air Force Base near the headwaters of the Shawsheen River.
Marty Guay, one of the current owners, grew up across the street and remembers coming over to sled on the big hill with his friends as a child. As long as he can remember, he dreamed of living in this house and used to tell his wife Ann that if it was ever available, he was going to buy it. One day just over three years ago, she noticed the "for sale" sign and called to tell him - as soon as he came home from his business trip, he looked at the house and said "we're moving!" -becoming only the second owner in the home's history
Since moving in, Marty and Ann Guay have completely renovated with a close eye on maintaining the original details whenever possible, including the moldings, floors and woodwork. In addition, they finished the third floor, which now includes an office, bathroom and bedroom. (Please note, only the first floor is included as part of the tour.)
Given it's prominent location at the top of the hill and its proximity to the Lt. Elezer Davis School, friends have told Ann and Marty that as they drove by, they often wondered what it was like inside. Last year, Ann stopped by the office of Suzanne & Co. and asked if she could put a sign for the Bedford Education Foundation's Winter Bash in the front of their building. Suzanne replied,"Sure, if you'll be part of the house tour next year!" It is now a year later, and the Guays' house is part of the house tour. Ann shares, "It's a great event and we're happy to be a part of it. It's one of the things that makes living in Bedford so special and I hope people enjoy visiting our home as much as we enjoy living here."
Ann and Marty enjoy decorating for the the holidays in a traditional style that suits their home, with lots of pine boughs, white lights and her collection of Byer dolls. While Ann is still working on the specific decorating plans for this year, she says "I will definitely make it even more special this year. My friends have referred me to Pinterest for inspiration and I do plan to incorporate the French Canadian tradition of decorating a Christmas tree outside as well, which we've seen on our visits to Quebec."
When she's not overseeing home renovations or decorating for the holidays, Ann puts her legal skills to work as a volunteer with many organizations advocating for children's causes, including sitting on the board of directors for the Mass Advocates for Children and Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts. Earlier this year she was appointed to the Bedford School Committee.
The tour includes a number of other homes throughout Bedford, highlighting the heritage and range of architectural styles represented here. And to keep visitors sharp, an identical holiday item will be placed in each home - the first three people to correctly identify it win tickets to next year's house tour.
In the course of visiting the homes, guests are invited between 2 and 5pm to gather at the Congregational Church on Great Road for refreshments and holiday cheer, including the annual wreath raffle and the opportunity to shop for those special people on your gift list at the holiday bazaar. This is the tour's 16th year and proceeds support the activities of the Chamber of Commerce, including scholarships awarded to local students.
Tickets are $20 in advance ($15 for seniors, $8 for children), and $25 day of the event - available at the New England Nursery at 216 Concord Road, Great Road Gallery & Framing at 363 Great Road, and online at bedfordchamber.org.