HARLEM — Beautifully renovated brownstones from the 1800s will be on display for Mount Morris Park's 24th annual house tour this Sunday but another type of home will also be showcased — a funeral home.
The stop at Isaiah Owens Funeral Home on Lenox Avenue will highlight the Tiffany skylight inside the parlor, where they hold services at the still active funeral chapel.
"We've never had a funeral home on the tour before but owner Isiah Owens is such a remarkable guy and the Tiffany skylight is just beautiful," said Syderia Chresfield, president of the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association.
The stop at Owens Funeral Home, whose owner is the subject of a recent documentary to air on PBS later this month titled "Homegoings," is part of the tour's effort to focus on the architectural details that make a home and the neighborhood special.
Chresfield said she was impressed with how the claw foot tubs, oversized master suites and even the use of a plexi-glass wall showcasing original floor joists gives insights into not only the historic neighborhood, but the families there.
"They all have fantastic stories. You can see of what the families have brought to the home," Chresfield said.
As a part of that effort to highlight the architectural details that make a neighborhood, the historic fire watchtower at Marcus Garvey Park will also be the subject of its own tour led by preservation architect Angel Ayón. The national landmark is the last of its kind in the city.
The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association has embarked on a fundraising effort to raise the $4.5 million needed to fully restore the badly deteriorating tower at the park's acropolis.
"The Fire Watchtower in Marcus Garvey Park is an engineering feat that needs to be preserved. Cast iron is one thing, but the aesthetic of this octagonal structure, with its vertical Doric columns, is what makes it unique not only for New York, but the United States," said Laurent Delly, vice president of the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association.
Architect and historian John Reddick will also lead an interior tour of three homes.
After Sunday, the focus will shift to next year's house tour, which will celebrate the event's 25th anniversary.
"Next year is going to be huge. We plan on showcasing homes but we also plan to have a big party with local historians speaking to people on the tours," Chresfield said. "People are just very interested with what's going on in Harlem."
Tickets for the self-guided tour are $35 or $25 in advance. Tickets for the Inside & Intimate tour led by architect and historian John Reddick are $70, $50 in advance; and the Marcus Garvey Park Fire Watchtower tour is included in the general tour price. Guided tours include admission to the general tour as well. The tours begin in front of the Pelham Fritz Community Center, West 122 Street and Mount Morris Park West. For more information visit www.mmpcia.org.