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2018 Vintage Home Tour and Restoration Faire: An Interview with Nancy Parrish




Andrew Villalobos

I recently sat down with Nancy Parrish who, for the last fourteen years, has been the head of the committee for the Old Riverside Foundation’s Vintage Home Tour. It was a pleasure to speak with someone so passionate about the preservation of Riverside’s historic structures stemming from an appreciation and fascination with the individuals who built and maintained them.


It takes months of preparation and over 70 volunteers, as well as sponsors and vendors, to make the tour possible. It began 27 years ago and was designed to allow folks in the Inland Empire to see the inside of vintage homes, appreciate their uniqueness and architectural details, and admire how they were built. The tour also creates an opportunity to educate residents about the historic preservation that Old Riverside Foundation stands for.

The tour also showcases how homeowners are able to personalize historic homes without diminishing their beauty, and allows people the opportunity to experience a piece of history in a comfortable setting. “Like my mother used to say, nobody scrubs their clothes on a washboard,” Nancy said jokingly. The point of the comment is that people may feel that vintage homes are not conducive to modern living, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.


By putting on the tour, Nancy hopes people will fall in love with the houses and maybe even consider one for their next home. More demand will create more value, which aids in restoration and preservation, and results in improved neighborhoods where pride of ownership is apparent. She also believes that creating an appreciation for the residential structures will lead to an appreciation for all historic structures, including commercial buildings.

Growing our community of preservationists will aid in strengthening the fabric of our city and prevent the destruction and loss of our cultural resources. We must never forget that the Mission Inn, which has become the crown jewel of the city, would currently be a parking lot if certain individuals had had their way.


I asked Nancy what she has learned in putting on these tours and how it has shaped her view of Riverside. The answer was overwhelmingly an appreciation for the lives of Riversiders who have come before us, the environment they built, and the beautiful structures and stories they left behind. She explained that up until the 1920’s, formal education was

required only up to eighth grade, so many of the prominent Riversiders who built large businesses and lovely homes were not always well educated. They were, however, movers and shakers who came to Riverside and made a name for themselves. Putting on the tours has given Nancy a greater appreciation for the historic community within the city.


Nancy has spent many years crafting the experience of the home tour, so if you are new to the tour, you are in for a treat. “Our tour is unique in that you purchase your tickets and visit the houses in any fashion you like. You’re not in a car or a bus, you’re not told to go to this one or that one first. We monitor the homes so a small number of people are let in at any one time, and our docents are positioned around the house to answer questions and point out architectural details or information about the first owners. There are also picture boards with details on the houses or families. You get to see, in essence, the entire house as well as the grounds.”


The tour lasts from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm so you have plenty of time to see five private homes, plus the Weber House and Architectural Salvage area. Also at the Weber House are vendors geared toward Vintage Homes, antiques, and more. “Plus, that’s where the raffle baskets are, so everyone who buys a ticket gets to enter the raffle,” Nancy added.


The homes on this year’s tour are a 1920’s Tudor, a Spanish Eclectic Bungalow, The Rumsey Home, a Grove House, and a Craftsman Bungalow. These homes have fantastic stories behind them, but I won’t spoil the surprise! There are
booklets provided that will detail each of the homes and their histories.


If you’re interested in having your home on the tour, it’s nice to know that all the research done on the properties in preparation for the tour is crafted together and gifted to you for safekeeping. You’ll also receive tickets for you and some guests to tour the properties, a year’s membership to the Old Riverside Foundation, and a gorgeous floral arrangement from Moreno Valley Florists, all while showcasing the beauty of one of Riverside’s historical homes. Not a bad deal!

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