Longtime Holiday Home Tour attendees will be delighted to again get a look inside the ornately decorated home of David Brown. With more than 28 Christmas trees and countless other seasonal decorations, this home is a holiday wonderland. Christmas was the happiest time of the year for his very close family, so David’s love of the holiday started very young. His grandparents made Christmas exceptionally special, with both of his grandfathers involved in the decorating. He has tinsel that hung on his maternal grandparents’ tree the first year they were married, and a foil-covered star from his father’s father. A small sleigh on the parlor mantel is from David’s childhood home and reminds him of a special time when people seemed more joyous and were kinder to each other.
David continues to add to the six generations of family decorations he’s inherited with collections of over 600 Christopher Radko hand-blown glass German Christmas ornaments, a curated collection of tree-toppers and Christmas-themed motionettes (including an animated children’s kitchen). In addition to Christmas-themed items, David also collects figurines that were created in Dresden, Germany by Friedrich Böttger, a local alchemist. Böttger figured out a formula for hard-paste porcelain, which he produced beginning in 1710 in Meissen. By the middle of the 18th century, figures styled after Italian commedia characters were common. One of the most famous techniques of Dresden artists was something called Dresden lace. To create the illusion of real fabric on figurines of women dancing at royal balls or posing in groups, decorators would dip actual, delicate lace into porcelain slip before applying it by hand to the porcelain figure. When fired in a kiln, the fabric would burn away, leaving a hard but extremely fragile shell of frozen crinoline skirts and billowy material behind. Individuals had to apprentice for more than thirty before becoming an official Dresden artist. David’s most prized Dresden figurine, “Lady with Baskets,” was made in 1887 and won best in show in 1910, 1911, 1912, 1914, 1915 and 1916. The figurines have not been made since Dresden was bombed during World War II, making them even more precious. David is also an avid collector of glassware, with more than 24,000 pounds of glass, including an expansive array of Fenton.
Originally from Campbellsburg, David moved to Louisville as an undergraduate student at the University of Louisville and knew that he didn’t want to live anywhere else except Old Louisville. After graduation, he moved back to his hometown briefly, but he returned to Old Louisville in 2009 and purchased a home on W. St. Catherine. Knowing that he eventually wanted a larger home, David had been admiring his current home on Ormsby Ave. In 2013, he put his W. St. Catherine home on the market, selling it in just three days! He finally obtained his current home after 14 months of negotiations. With only six months to make it livable, David did most of the renovations along with Roger Davis and Dennis Raisor themselves. The work, including new wiring, re-plastering ceilings and walls (after removing 30 layers of wallpaper) and refinishing the original hardwood inlaid floors made black from grime and overuse, resulted in many 20-foot dumpsters full! Fortunately, many items original to the home remained in tact and could be restored: all woodwork, including doors and eleven fireplace mantels, six stained glass windows, gold leaf crown molding, Lincrusta wall coverings, ceramic foyer tile, and a chandelier in a second floor bedroom. Another very interesting original feature includes a water system that begins at the roof, brings rainwater into a silo in the attic, and then funnels it into boxed gutters and through the walls, emptying it directly into the sewer system.
This 5,200 square-foot Italianate and Queen Anne-style house was built in the 1890’s for a Frenchman, who imported the floors from France in a kit. The daughter of another long-term occupant lived in the house until she was 90! In the 1950s, the basement room under the front parlor was a doctor’s office, with its entrance from a side door on Second Street. At some point in its history, the house was divided into 12 apartments, but fortunately, a subsequent owner restored it to single-family. David estimates he is the home’s fifth owner. This house has been featured in the Courier-Journal, the Voice Tribune, and will be showcased in Kentucky Home and Garden in October 2018. It has also been on the Old Louisville Hidden Treasurers Garden Tour.