Donna traveled far away from her native Canada to attend a Bible college in Omaha, Nebraska. During her time there, James Chancellor was hired as the college’s basketball coach. They became friends and then started dating Donna’s senior year. “Jim” worked as the coach at the college until 1972 while also earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Life took them to Kansas City, then Denver, then back to Louisville, where Jim received a master’s degree at Southern Seminary, and then on to Durham, NC, where he earned his PhD at Duke University. The couple then returned to Denver, where they lived for eight years, during which time Jim was the Dean of Arts and Science at Colorado Christian University. They finally settled in Louisville in 1992 when Jim accepted a teaching position at Southern Seminary, where he remained until 2012.
When they first moved to Louisville, the Chancellors lived in the Highlands but decided it was too close to the Watterson Expressway for their liking. During their four years there, Donna worked, flipped houses, and eagerly kept her eyes open for a house they could renovate (but that would still be habitable during the renovations). They moved from the Highlands to a home in Clifton, where they lived for seven years before again deciding to move. It was at that time that their friend and real estate agent Herb Warren (now co-owner of the Louisville Bourbon Inn and DuPont Mansion) invited the couple to see a house he felt was perfect for them: 1230 Garvin Place. In 2003, they purchased the circa 1898 beauty and have enjoyed living in the neighborhood ever since.
Donna and Jim purchased the 2,650 square-foot house from Ralph and Virginia Larsson, who had lived there for 47 years. Both in their early 90s, the Larssons moved to Treyton Oak Towers, where they lived to be 100! Creative with space management, Ralph tucked cabinets into tiny spaces all around the home. The Larssons also closed off the middle hallway and built in a front door closet, laundry room, and full bathroom under the back stairs.
While the home was not in disrepair when Donna and Jim bought it, it did need some updating. The entire house had been painted one color, and wood paneling and shutters kept it very dark. Everything had been decorated to look very simplistic and modern. The dining room fireplace had been plastered over and the mantles removed, there were no hanging lights except one at the top of the front stairs, and no handles on the kitchen cabinets. As you will see on the tour, Donna and Jim have changed most of these features, keeping only the one hanging light at the top of the stairs.
The Chancellors made other changes to the home as well, including building a woodworking shop in the garage, removing a wall between the kitchen and breakfast nook, as well as adding a master bath and closet. The renovations took almost a year, leaving them unable to actually use a stove or oven to cook a meal from November 2003 through October 2004! However, the resulting open, bright space was well worth the wait to them and the envy of anyone who visits.
The Chancellors have appointed the house with an amazing array of antique furniture, including a stunning secretary with hidden compartments and clever locks made by Donna’s grandfather in 1924. Her grandmother displayed the family dishes on the top shelves while her grandfather used the secretary’s desk and cubbies for his bookkeeping. The massive dining room table that greets you as you enter the home was purchased with six of the chairs in 1970 for only $70!
A talented artist who has mastered many mediums, Donna is responsible for most of the artwork in the home. She currently paints in predominantly watercolors and has exhibited her work at the Art in the Garden (during Old Louisville Hidden Treasurers Garden Tour), Nancy’s Bagel Grounds, and of course, the Garvin Gate Blues Festival, which takes place practically at her front door. This September, her paintings will be on display at Another Place Sandwich Shop downtown.
The Chancellors’ home is an architectural and artistic delight that you’ll not want to miss!