Historic Garden Week in Richmond will feature walking tours of several fan area gardens. The tour is scheduled for Thursday, April 22nd, from 10 AM – 4:30 PM. Tickets will be available at all the featured properties. Lunch is available through St. James Episcopal Church. See the website for full details.
1402 PARK AVENUE. This orderly, sophisticated townhouse has a Cajun flavor, with shades of pale gray lending a harmonious flow throughout the interior. The expansive foyer features six lovely French botanicals from the early1800s found in New Orleans. A slight lavender paint hue in the front room adds a lighter touch to the imposing architecture. Here, the clean, straight lines of a taupe sofa are softened by two upholstered Belgian chairs, a Lucite table tops a sisal rug, and a petite secretary from the owner’s family accompanies a small chair, overlaid in Mexican silver. The bay window holds an abstract painting by Seattle artist and relative Adele Sypesteyn. In the dining room, a stunning gray and white kyanite table, constructed by Stokes of England in Keswick, Virginia, takes center stage. Surrounding it are cerused oak Louis XVI chairs upholstered in beige linen. A blue and white Canton soup tureen adds a splash of color, and a black lacquered sideboard underscores a large, abstract painting by North Carolina artist Steven Seinberg. Neutral colors continue into the kitchen and family room, accented by a large abstract oil by Sypesteyn and a wall of handsome bookcases.
A private garden lies just beyond the glass wall. Artfully arranged pots, tended garden beds, an appealing tiled path, a wall of flowering clematis, and a cleverly mirrored terracotta fountain are reminiscent of un petit jardin Francais. Open for the first time by the owners, Mr. and Mrs.John Cheairs Porter, Jr.
1004 WEST AVENUE. Disparate themes of African wildlife and contemporary art blend beautifully in this fashionable West Avenue home built in 1905. Strong colors and artful arranging showcase the collections.
A small settee has an interesting provenance: it was once owned by Madame Chiang Kai-shek. The front parlor, with a zebra-skin rug underfoot, is rich with art: Chagall, Picasso and Matisse lithographs, a Julien Binford watercolor and a Salvador Dali sculpture. The owner’s grandfather crafted the Tennessee chest of drawers, and the oil over the mantel was commissioned for his family. Note the abstract encaustic painting by Richmond artist Cindy Neuschwander. The library is highlighted by animal print fabrics and handsome bookcases, a Nouguchi table and the first of two Sally Bowring paintings. Surrealist Joan Miro and metarealist Nancy Witt add a bit of playfulness to the dining room, where guests are invited to sit in the palms of gilded chairs fashioned by Mexican artist Pedro Friedeberg. This dramatic room is further accented by antelope heads, a Neirmann Weeks chandelier, crimson walls and a stunning tilt-top Bavarian table. In the kitchen/family room area, a chocolate sofa, cherry club chairs and two Corbusier cowhide seats are arranged in harmony with the large abstract oil by Sally Bowring. As you enter the courtyard, a 16th century Italian fountainhead from Florence sets a peaceful tone. Open for the first time by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jack M. Enoch, Jr.
1015 WEST FRANKLIN STREET. Designed by Richmond architect Marcellus E. Wright and built in 1913, this four-story structure is a splendid example of Georgian Revival style, drawing its character from the mansard roof, arched windows and Corinthian-columned, second-story porch. The house was originally built for Dr. Paul Howle; his medical office and surgery suites, and his servants’ quarters, were located on the ground floor. On the second and third floors, the residence is still accessed either by a tiny elevator, most unusual to construction of that period, or by a magnificent L-shaped staircase. A peaceful domicile above the urban fray, the owner’s living quarters are bathed in natural light which streams through mullion, fan and bay windows. The crisp, white, finely detailed woodwork and the intricately carved mantels are original as is the French lithograph wallpaper, so beautifully prominent in the dining room. The present owner reconfigured his modern kitchen from four small rooms, creating and combining an efficient culinary area and a comfortable, cozy den retreat.
The rooms are brimming with interesting eclectic pieces honoring the family’s homesteading history, reflecting the owner’s world travels, and testifying to an appreciation of both fine and decorative arts. Open for the first time by the owner, David Van Blaricum.
1136 WEST AVENUE. At the turn of the last century, when West Avenue was on the cusp of Richmond’s westward expansion, this street was affectionately called Stork Alley because it attracted young marrieds beginning their families; notice the stork plaque at the front door. The home’s commodious rooms hold this family’s history and reflect their interests. A grand piano is surrounded by comfortable seating and a remarkable collection of paintings by Addison Hodges, Ralph Gray and Loryn Brazier, with portraiture by Mary DeLeftwich Dodge and Barbara Sullivan. A pier mirror and an ancient cedar box were painted and decorated by friend and artist William Perrine. A marble-top drugstore counter, used as a buffet, was paint-decorated by Bonnie Thomas.
In keeping with the original Victorian character of the house, five fireplaces, shut down by intermediate owners, have been restored. In 1976, the expansive kitchen/family room was reconfigured from a small confined kitchen, a butler’s pantry and servants’ quarters. Doors inviting light and breezes replaced small kitchen windows, and French doors salvaged from a local convent contribute to the room’s light airy quality. The balustrade deck and beautifully planted patio were created by the owner, who is an author and garden historian. Mr. and Mrs. George C. Longest, owners.
Richmond—1515 West Avenue
1515 WEST AVENUE. Designed by renowned Richmond architect Duncan Lee and built in 1915, this Dutch Colonial style house, with its Amsterdam roof line, vestibule entry and signature center staircase, exhibits the precise, refined interior detail for which the architect was famous. Large windows to the front and to the rear of the residence, paneled woodwork and the owners’ chosen pastel palette conjure a sense of Danish fairytale enchantment. Four beautiful landscape paintings by New England artist John Traynor, a collection of intensely colored, porcelain oyster plates and a very unusual sharkskin secretary appoint the living room. The sweeping center hallway, passing the charming Harry Potter-like powder room, carries guests into an elegant, octagonally configured dining room, featuring paired corner cabinets and blocked English wallpaper. The spacious kitchen, renovated in 2003, folds into a cheerful breakfast room, and weather permitting, out into a walled Charleston garden, complete with boxwood plantings and trickling fountain. Open for the first time by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Chewning.
1518 WEST AVENUE. What do you get when you take a 20th century row house and an innovative 21st century architect, then add one savvy contemporary art dealer, five children and a dog? The answer is to be found at this address. Thirty years ago, when the current owners renovated this home, they wholeheartedly embraced Fan District living, while discarding all thought of period purity. The redesign of the first floor presents one uninterrupted living space, with activity areas defined by partial walls, free-floating cabinetry and vertical oak posts. Since natural light was a scarce commodity in this house, French doors and a light-well were employed to capture sunlight. While the ascending stairway is original to the structure, the descending stairwell is fabricated of sandblasted steel, one of many distinctive features showcasing the architect’s point-counterpoint style.
The long, narrow interior is punctuated by an outstanding art collection, pieces by internationally esteemed artists whose works are found in the world’s major museums. The foyer is host to a Sally Mann photograph and a Donald Sultan print. The living room boasts works by Ellsworth Kelley and Cy Twombly. The dining room table is surrounded by Bellini chairs, and a Curtis Ripley painting hangs above a sea captain’s chest. Also of note is a large print by Richard Serra, titled “B.B. King,” and a Lucien Freud Nude. The uniquely reinvented bones of the house and its remarkable art collection make visiting this particular residence a visually fascinating experience. Mr. and Mrs. Sanford Bond, owners.
HT: John M.