1445 St. James Court – Home of Leigh LaViolette and Amanda Pendley

Leigh was born in Sheboygan, WI and Amanda in Louisville.  Their paths purposefully crossed in 2013 on a semi-blind date.  Amanda owned a few rental properties in southern Indiana and was also a Gulf dispatcher for a couple of fleets with the inland waterways in Jeffersonville, a job that had her working seven days on, then seven days off.  Leigh made his own schedule as an automobile glass salesman in Toledo, OH.  A mutual friend thought the two of them should meet, so while at a party in Toledo, Leigh stole Amanda’s number when their friend wasn’t looking!  Days later and on a whim, Leigh asked Amanda to a gala in Toledo, offering to fly her to Detroit where he would pick her up.  Amanda accepted, as she was about to embark on her seven days off from work.  The plane kept getting delayed, causing them to completely miss the gala.  Instead, they spent their first date together in downtown Detroit.  That evening turned into five days and included sailing on Lake Erie and visiting the Toledo Art Museum before returning to their respective cities and jobs.  They became close friends and would often meet up during Amanda’s time off, eventually becoming a couple in a long-distance relationship.


In 2014, Leigh landed a great job in Louisville and moved in with Amanda at her home in Jeffersonville.  They married in December of that year and bought their first rental property together as a married couple just a few days later, adding to the ones that Amanda already owned.  (They were also ready to expand their family; Amanda was pregnant with their first son when signing the papers at closing!)  Their first joint purchase was a gorgeous circa 1887 three-story Italianate home on Fourth with original hardwood floors, featuring updated kitchens and bathrooms.  This was once a single-family home but became a quad-plex decades ago.  Ever since purchasing this home, the couple fell in love with Old Louisville and began looking for a single-family home in the neighborhood to make their own.  Leigh and Amanda looked at dozens of homes on almost every street in Old Louisville and had made countless offers only to find themselves repeatedly outbid.  Finally, two years and two children later, they bought 1445 St. James Court.  Leigh and Amanda actually walked away from this home the month before but sealed the deal at last in January 2017.  They were delighted and packed up their boys (both under the age of two) and belongings, leaving Jeffersonville for Old Louisville at last.


Amanda and Leigh’s new home is distinctive in that it was the very first house built on St. James Court.  At the close of the Southern Exposition in 1887, W.H. Slaughter purchased the land where the grand exhibition hall had stood.  Envisioning Louisville’s first suburb, he formed the Victoria Land Company, subdivided the block into 63 parcels and sold them as residential lots.  He named the streets St. James and Belgravia Courts after the affluent area in Westminster that encompasses Buckingham Palace.  Slaughter gave his brother Thomas the plot on which their father built 1445 St. James.  This Eclectic-style home is among only a handful on the Court that was never converted into apartments.  Amanda and Leigh intend to keep it a single-family home and were awarded the Louisville Historic Structure Plaque in August.


This home, whose original number was 21 St. James Court, has many of its original qualities still intact:  inlaid oak hardwood floors, front and rear staircases, wood panels, crown molding, stained glass windows, doors and doorknobs, as well as four out of five working fireplaces.  Previous owners have also added many unique features over the years.  Longtime resident Mrs. Morris (Marguerite) Gifford created a personalized etched window on the second floor as well as sunburst patterns made of brick in the back yard.  She passed away in the home on her 93rd birthday, New Year’s Day 1969.  The front foyer has re-purposed shutters from the 1970s that were once in Saint Joseph’s Infirmary.  The most recent owners before Amanda and Leigh were Barb Townsend and her late husband Lou, who purchased the home in 1998.  The Courier-Journal featured an article on their masterful 2009 kitchen renovation, which included extending the first floor over ten feet to make room for a wet bar and sitting area with large windows to let in the natural light.  They also put antique chandeliers throughout the entire home.


Since moving into the home in February of this year, Amanda and Leigh have already added their unique touches with personal art, fresh paint, and most notably, tiny handprints from their two sons that adorn the original windows.  They have replaced carpet on the stairs and third floor with some that is more comfortable underneath their little boys’ feet (and bottoms) as they master the skill of walking!


Future plans include an entire renovation of the second floor master bath and eventually adding a carriage house.  Amanda and Leigh are happy to rear their children in Old Louisville and can be found most days at Central Park on the swing sets.  They welcome you into their home during this year’s Holiday Home Tour.


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