It’s not surprising that Clark and Judy Megill, both lifelong fans of historic architecture, chose their current dwelling on South Fourth Street when they relocated to Louisville from Maryland, three years ago. Built in 1880 by Alexis DuPont, the imposing, three-story brick building is one of the oldest structures in Louisville.
“I love old houses, we’ve lived in several,” Judy exclaimed. “I just like the charm and the warmth, and all the architectural details you get in an old home that you just wouldn’t find in a (modern house).” Details like the stately, winding wooden staircase, visible as one first steps inside the foyer of the home. And the striking stained-glass window, colorfully filtering in daylight on the north side of the building from where it sits, just above the stairwell’s first landing.
The historic structure has undergone multiple renovations over the years, at one point even being converted into six separate apartments with full kitchens and baths. In the 1970s the building was transformed back into a single family dwelling, and has remained so up to the present, housing 10 bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths. “It’s amazing that there’s as much intact as there is,” commented Judy.
For example, the large interior rooms – especially unusual in homes built during the Victorian era – have managed to survive, despite the extensive remodeling. Light pastel wall colors, also not traditionally found in houses from the time period, highlight original architectural details and enhance the airiness of spaces like the formal dining room. The Megills chose to keep the color scheme, selected by the home’s previous owner, an interior decorator. “I kind of like that combination, of the old detail-work and the light colors, which makes it feel much more open,” Judy explained.
That openness extends to the home’s kitchen as well, a large, airy space with shelves lining the walls for storage, rather than closed-door cabinets. Positioned at the rear of the house, its large windows overlook Judy’s favorite feature, an inviting courtyard and garden that make up the home’s backyard. “It’s our living room in the summertime,” she smiled.
It’s plain to see why. Stepping out the back door onto a small deck, one finds oneself in the midst of a myriad of flowering plants and greenery, including peonies, Japanese roses, mint, hostas and clematis. A multilevel goldfish pond softly babbles to the left, while to the right lies an inviting in-ground swimming pool, which the Megills typically enjoy in the evenings after its water has spent the day warming in the sun. Next to the pond stands a romantic wooden pergola covered in wisteria vines – complete with an overhead fan – serving as a cool, shaded sitting space. Clark and Judy frequently dine under the pergola, occasionally hosting dinner parties for other couples in their local gourmet club.
Just beyond the courtyard stands an elegant brick carriage house, which was recently featured along with the Megills’ garden in the 2012 Old Louisville Hidden Treasures Garden Tour. Although the original structure was demolished, the existing rebuild, which sits atop a five-car garage, seamlessly meshes with its surroundings. The newer building was honored in 1982 by the Preservation Alliance, receiving the organization’s award for modern design and construction of a new structure adhering to the historic nature of Old Louisville.
Inside the two-bedroom, two-bath carriage house, home to tenant Michael McCoy, details such as stained-glass windows and an antique mantle over the fireplace complement the original house. The feeling of openness carries over into the carriage house as well, which features high ceilings and ship-like stairs leading up to an airy, second-story loft.
One needs only to step out of the newer building’s sliding glass doors and back into the green courtyard to see, and appreciate, the collective beauty of home, garden and carriage house. “It’s a nice mix of updates and originals,” Judy summed up. “It’s pretty cool.” From the shade of the wisteria, in the soft breeze of the pergola’s overhead fan, it would be hard to disagree.
Photos By JAMES EATON | Contributing Photographer