It was only a pair of new shoes. But to the little boy, they were wings.
“I’m going to be the fastest runner now!” he told Mary Davies, a volunteer with the Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific.
To prove his claim, the boy joyfully flew down the school hallway and back again, beaming.
“They are very thankful,” Davies said.
The little boy with the new shoes was only one of nearly 1,000 children in Clatsop County who are helped by the Assistance League each year.
Through several Assistance League projects, children receive new clothes — and new confidence — to wear to school.
“It’s just a good feeling to know that I can be a little bit of help and make a difference in a child’s life,” Davies said.
To provide that help, the Assistance League is conducting its annual Home & Chef Tour. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 15, five historic homes and a commercial building in Astoria will be opened to the public. In addition, chefs from area restaurants will provide appetizers.
Built between 1885 and 1908, the five homes offer a glimpse into one of the most prosperous periods in Astoria’s history.
Among the homes on the tour is the Foard home, a Queen Anne-style house built by Astorian businessman Martin Foard in 1892. Until it was sold last year, the home had had only two owners.
The original carved woodwork around the doors, an elegant staircase and the ornate Lincrusta-Walton wainscoting in the foyer and dining room — popular in the late 19th century — remain in good condition.
Astoria’s prominent families once gathered in the living room, where the Columbia River can be viewed from the home’s hilltop location.
When Jack and Bonnie Ross bought the home last December, the first thing they discovered were pocket doors hidden inside the door frames between two of the rooms.
“They had been enclosed for at least 50 years,” said Bonnie Ross. “They were just beautiful.”
The Rosses, who are enthusiastic historic preservationists, have already replaced a mantel over the library’s fireplace, refinished the mahagony inlaid floors and have begun restoring the butler’s pantry.
But the home’s original door knobs, bathroom fixtures and windows are still in good shape, Bonnie Ross said.
“The house is pretty exceptional, pretty original. … We feel very blessed to be here,” she added.
Other homes on the tour are the:
Cronin home: Built in 1915 by native Finn, Dr. Toivo Forsstrom, who immigrated to Astoria via shanghai on the SS Dakota in 1905, the 5,000-square-foot house features a rock creek fireplace, Craftsman-style woodwork, large windows with river views and a secret door to a hidden room. The downstairs bathroom is wallpapered with hundreds of Astoria canning labels.
Brown-Stichman home: Restored by Mark Brown and Dennis Stichman, the home, built between 1904 and 1908, includes a hemlock floor throughout the second floor and hall, built-ins with antique leaded-glass doors and a breathtaking view of the Columbia from nearly every room.
Beck home: Listed in the National Record of Historic Places, the 4,000-square-foot home was built in 1886 and remains in its original state; only the kitchen has been remodeled.
Jones home: From the time it was built in 1895 until 2000, this home remained in the McGregor family. The 5,500-square-foot house sits on one acre above the Alderbrook lagoon.
Vintage Hardware: Originally occupied by the Maki Supply Company in 1946, the building also contained agricultural machinery sales, auto repair and feed and seed businesses.
The Clatsop County chapter of the Assistance League works with an $80,000 annual budget to provide children clothing. Through its main program, Operation School Bell, 650 kids in elementary through high school received socks, shoes, underwear, pants, shirts and coats last year.
Another 350 high school girls borrowed donated gowns for homecoming and prom through the league’s Cinderella Closet. Thirty local children, who entered the state’s foster care system and weren’t allow to bring anything from home, were comforted with duffel bags filled with clothing, books, a blanket and stuffed animal, all supplied by the league.
In addition, the league assists kids whose families can’t afford to pay fees for school sports or choir.
The generosity of local store owners who offer deep discounts, as well as the annual tour, which has grown more popular over the past nine years, help the league reach its goals, Davies said.
“We’re so blessed in this small community,” she added.
What: Home & Chef Tour
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15
Sponsored by: Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific
Cost: $30 ($25 tax deductible)
Tickets available: at Holly McHone Jewelers (1150 Commercial St.) Columbia Bank (Astoria, Warrenton & Seaside locations) Check Facebook page.
Also available at the tour locations in Astoria:
1661 Grand Ave.
Chef: Fort George Brewery
Florist: Erick Florist Company
Sponsored by: Autio Company & Englund Marine & Industrial Supply Co. Inc.
808 Ninth St.
Chef: Bridgewater Bistro
Florist: Natural Nook
Sponsored by US Bank
726 Seventh St.
Chef: Fulio’s Pastaria, Tuscan Steakhouse & Delicatessen
Florist: Natural Nook
Sponsored by: Dr. & Mrs. Miller & Dr. and Mrs. R. Keiser
455 45th St., Astoria Chef: Beach Burrito - Seaside Florist: Bloomin Crazy Floral Sponsored by: Bayshore Animal Hospital
690 Seventh St.
Chef: Baked Alaska Restaurant & Lounge
Florist: Erickson Floral
Sponsored by: Totem Properties
Vintage Hardware’s Sneak Preview
1162 Marine Drive
Chef: Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro & Carruthers
Florist: Bloomin Crazy Floral
Sponsored by: Bigby’s Tree Service, ISA Certified Arborists