A native of Henderson, Kentucky, Jacqueline Smith was born with a love of Christmas and Victorian architecture. Her grandparents owned a large hog farm that operated 364 days a year. On December 25th they went all out, as it was the only day of the year that her young father got a slight break from farm work. He carried the love of Christmas into adulthood, making it the most special holiday for young Jacqueline and her brother. Her family moved frequently while she was growing up due to a federal government job, with her longest stretch being in Southeast Georgia. When she was in middle school, Jacqueline’s family moved to Ashland, Kentucky, and she has not left the Bluegrass State since! Jacqueline turned down Yale and other prestigious institutions to attend the University of Louisville on a full scholarship. It was here in a Biology class that she met her husband, Duncan. During her first two weeks as an undergraduate student, Jacqueline attended a party on Fountain Court and stumbled onto Floral Terrace. She knew then that she wanted to live in Old Louisville. Jacqueline spent her free time exploring Fountain Court, Floral Terrace and the other neighborhood walking courts, falling more in love with every step.
Duncan Smith is a native Louisvillian who spent most of his childhood in the Beechmont neighborhood and later moved to Oldham County where his mother still resides. Since he was eight years old, Duncan has been actively involved in his family’s hardwood floor business, which instilled in him a love of older wood because of its density, hardness, and warmth. He continues to operate and remains passionate about the business today. He tolerates Jacqueline’s over the top Christmas decorating and jokes that he didn’t inherit the “Snowflake Gene” but he is learning to share her affinity for Elf Culture.
Jacqueline and Duncan were married at the West End Baptist Church at the corner of Fourth and Magnolia in 2006, so scenes from Old Louisville are the backdrop of all of their wedding photos. In 2008, they let a realtor convince them to move to Jeffersontown, and then spent the next seven years trying to return to Old Louisville. Before closing on their current residence in 2014, they were under contract for five different homes! (Obviously, none of those contracts panned out.) Jacqueline currently works full-time at Humana in Pharmacy Risk Operations and is also a certified birth and postpartum doula. Together she and Duncan own and operate ‘Old Louisville Hardwood Floors,’ a full service hardwood flooring business specializing in historic restoration that is headquartered in their home and named after their favorite neighborhood.
With a combination of Victorian, Queen Anne, and Edwardian architectural elements, their 3,800 square-foot Eclectic home was built in 1899 by Peter and Amelia Spalding. They began the first dry cleaners in the region in 1894, which at the time was cutting-edge technology. (Spalding was purchased by Universal Linen and is still in business today.) The Spaldings lived in the home until they moved to Audubon Park in the 1930s. They had two sons, the older of which was born in this house. The next occupants of this house were Max and Bessie Goldberg, who also owned the adjacent home where their parents lived. From the 1950s through the 1990s, 1328 S Brook was used as a boarding house and was eventually converted to three apartments. In early 1990s the home was purchased by an Army veteran and his wife who began the conversion back to single family. While Jacqueline never met the Simpsons, nor does she know their first names, neighbors often say she would have gotten along swimmingly with Mrs. Simpson who lovingly designed the back garden and hailed from Southeast Georgia, herself. In 2007, Louise Vernetti purchased the home and finished the conversion to a single-family residence with the intention of living here. She renovated the first two floors, but sold it to the McCubbins family before the third floor was completed. Jo McCubbins was known in the neighborhood for her beautiful Christmas decorations and sunny disposition. Jacqueline and Duncan purchased the home in 2014.
Since then, the couple has put on a new roof, updated the plumbing and is currently working to restore the boxed gutters and all double hung windows. They also used their business skills to restore the original inlaid hardwood floors, which are made of quarter-sawed white oak. The distinctive “tiger stripe” grain pattern is indicative of the quarter saw cut. Even their sub-floors are special. Much like most homes in Old Louisville, they are made of the heart wood of the long leaf pine, which only grows about three inches per year and therefore the heart wood is virtually extinct. Despite part of the original staircase being removed by a previous owner who thought it “stuck out too far,” many original features are still in tact, such as most of the art glass and window frames and sashes (except for two on the third floor). Other features original to the home are fireplace tiles, mantels and coal-burning inserts, coal chutes, and the doorbell! Various original elements contain a fleur de lis theme throughout the interior and exterior, including the carved wood awning on the back patio. In the front part of the house, limestone carvings surround four roundel (porthole) windows, which likely originally contained cut glass and are based on the monthly phases of the moon. All of the homes’ pocket doors are original and still functional, featuring ornate hardware. A large oil on canvas painting by Victor Volegov entitled “On the Lake” was purchased by the couple during their honeymoon and now graces the living room. A print in the dining room was willed to Jacqueline by her grandmother, and her collection of political lapel pins and memorabilia are on display in the front entryway. A portion of her American-fired Franciscan Desert Rose stoneware collection is also displayed in the dining room (the rest is used on a daily basis!) The second floor boasts rare features such as inlaid hardwood floors and brightly colored fireplace tiles from the Ekstrom Tile Company in Portland, Ohio, which went out of business in 1935. Seafoam green walls in the master bedroom are a beautiful backdrop for Jacqueline’s childhood furniture, and a fireplace mantel with an attached full-length mirror add a unique original touch.
Tourgoers will also be treated to the Smith’s elaborate Christmas decorations. In October, the couple begins erecting their nine trees, each with a different holiday theme. The main tree in the entryway is where the Smith family ornament collection is displayed. She also has all the ornaments in the “Hallmark Nostalgic Homes and Shops” series since it began in 1983, a tradition started by her grandmother the year she was born. Jacqueline has continued to add to her collection even after her grandmother’s death in 2010, and still purchases a new ornament every year which she proudly displays each Christmas. She also still has all of her American Girl dolls from her childhood. Young Evangeline is particularly fond of dressing the dolls in their Christmas finery.
Jacqueline and Duncan share their home with their two children, Evangeline (8), who attends Cochran Elementary and Elliott (4), who attends the University of Louisville Early Learning Campus –both of which are located in Old Louisville and within walking distance of their home. (Coincidentally, almost all of the young children whose homes are on this year’s tour are currently or have previously attended the Early Learning Campus.) Evangeline’s bedroom is home to her mother’s childhood Barbie ornament collection, and will also feature a new mini tree this year on which the “Fairy Baby Messenger” ornaments she’s recently started collecting will hang. Evangeline and Elliott love living in Old Louisville and enjoy riding their bikes on Ouerbacker Court (another of Old Louisville’s walking courts!). Their back yard contains original architectural elements from Victorian structures, and is a thoughtful extension of their living space. Their children spend much of the holiday season helping Jacqueline bake cookies (which she sells on Etsy!), and more importantly, trying to guess which fireplace Santa will come down!