By MATT POLLACK
For the Courier-Post
Six times every year, a tour passes by Kathy Tassini' s home here.
Tassini's Victorian home is one of the featured buildings in Walk Philadelphia's Haddonfield tours. Joe Haro, who guides the tour, uses the home as an example of the Queen Anne style, featuring large, protruding bay windows, wraparound porches.
"The details of the house are phenomenal. It's a really livable, beautiful old house," said Tassini, a librarian for Haddonfield's historical society and official borough historian. "It's got great character. They don't make houses like this anymore."
More exciting than just the style of the home is its history. Frederick Sutton, a coffee importer and real estate developer, built the house in 1886. In 1912, Sutton was in cabin D-50 when the Titanic went down.
Haro, who first outlined and researched the tour eight years ago, stresses the connection between Haddonfield's history and architecture throughout the tour.
"People know their Haddonfield history, but people never really talked about the architecture and how unique it is," said Haro, 63, a Haddonfield resident for 33 years. " Haddonfield has a great `village' feel to it, which makes it a perfect town to study its architecture."
The tours focus on a variety of early and late Victorian period buildings, most of which were built in the late 19th century after a railroad connecting Camden and Atlantic City transformed Haddonfield from a rural Colonial town into a commuter suburb.
Among the homes, churches and commercial buildings from the time, the tour also features homes designed by Samuel Sloan, an acclaimed Philadelphia architect of the time period who wrote, among other books, City and Suburban Architecture.
Four major types listed
During the tour, Haro points out four major types of architecture representative of the time period: Gothic Revival, a French form known for its pointed arches; Second Empire, known for its multiple columns and rooms built above the roof line; Queen Anne, known for its wraparound porches and multiple roofs, and Italianate, more vertical looking buildings known for its low-pitched roofs.
Haro said many of the homes featured on the tour, despite their grandeur, were built by the middle-class quite thriftily thanks to the Industrial Revolution.
"They said `We want to look like we have history,' and these homes immediately provided that feeling," Haro said. " The middle-class used these homes for show-and-tell."
Haro, who is the head of Haddonfield's Historic Preservation Committee that protects more than 500 homes against development in the town's historic district, explained that it is the character of these homes that sets them apart from today's style.
"The `McMansions' - the big ugly monstrosities from Cherry Hill and Voorhees - have no integrity," said Haro, noting how close together the homes are. "The cookie-cutter style of today's houses just don't have the aesthetic appeal or character that these old homes have."
The next tour (Saturday at 2 p.m.) is the second of three this summer featuring Victorian Haddonfield. The series wraps up on Sept. 28. Walk Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization interested in preserving local architectural history, also sponsors a tour of Colonial Haddonfield as well as 45 others in the Delaware Valley area.
"We try to tell a story as expressed through the architecture that covers general history, social history and urban planning," said Ken Hinde, Walk Philadelphia's director of tours. "Haddonfield is almost like the idyllic Smalltown, USA, so it makes it easy."
Haro said the tour groups range from seven or eight people up to 25 or 30.
Tour covers two miles
The 90-minute tour will cover approximately two miles. The tour costs $10 and all proceeds will benefit Walk Philadelphia, an organization that supports educational activities and civic issues relating to architecture in the Delaware Valley. Reservations are not necessary.
Reach Matt Pollack at (856) 486-2401 or email@example.comIf you goArchitectural walking tour of Haddonfield Saturday at 2 p.m.Tour begins at 9 Kings Highway West in front of the Fanny Mae Candy StoreCost: $10, $8 for students, free for children 10 and underLength: Aproximately 90 minutes covering almost two miles