What do Victoria Station, The Globe Theatre and Big Ben have in common? You’ll see all of these in the Dickens Village on the 2018 Holiday Home Tour at the Old Louisville Fleur de Lis Bed and Breakfast (B&B). This beautiful B&B is run by Sharon and John Dills, two long-time Old Louisville residents who, along with their co-owner and daughter Laura, treat guests to an international journey during their stay!
Built using Romanesque architecture style in 1897, the picturesque home is registered in the Old Louisville Historic District located near the corner of 3rd and Hill Streets. A group of three sea monsters guard the top of the home. These creatures can also be found in the lobby of the Palace Theater on 4th Street. Michele Dutcher in the Louisville’s Silent Guardians 4th edition states that the sea monsters are similar to fountains in Italy.
C.C. Mengel & Brothers bought the land in 1890 and developed several homes along 3rd Street. Manuel J. Streng, who started in the wholesale shoe business at 635 West Main Street, was one of the first owners of 1470. He continued in the business until his retirement in 1925. T.P. Taylor of Taylor Drugs purchased the home from the Streng family in 1904. The Courier-Journal ran the obituary of T.P. Taylor on December 18, 1928, stating that “the chain store founder had made his home at the Kentucky for several months, living formerly at The Seelbach, after he had left his home near Third and Hill Streets.” The paper also reported that it was his custom to spend a portion of the winter in Florida and part of the summer months in Atlantic City.
By the time local resident and realtor Mary Martin purchased the house in 1999, it had been broken up into seven apartments! Mary sold it to Sandy and Steve Barber, who owned it until 2007. The Barbers’ initial renovation included replacing most of the hardwood floors on the first floor and restoring the original pocket doors after finding them in the basement. They also added a sunroom on the second floor and installed a walk-in closet off the master bedroom. It sat empty until 2009, when Laura Dills purchased the home. Since the Dills Family took ownership, they have installed built-in bookcases in the living room, finished the basement and added hardware to all the windows. To get the house up to code for opening as a B&B, they updated electrical and plumbing systems, and completed major renovations to the kitchen, including installation of a commercial dishwasher. Additionally, the Dills removed the back staircase to install a commercial elevator, allowing guests to enter the home and access any guest room without having to walk up one single step! Finally, in the fall of 2017, the Old Louisville Fleur de Lis Bed & Breakfast welcomed its first guests.
The home boasts many interesting original architectural features, including a grand staircase that goes to the third floor, pocket doors made with birds eye maple, oak and other hard woods, and a basement with 10’ foot ceilings. Also original are the wood floors on both the second and third floors, which the Dills refinished to reveal the beautiful parquet pattern. They have converted the original coal-burning fireplaces to electric in all guest rooms. In addition to the beauty of the home itself, Laura’s vast international travel has allowed them to fill the house with items from around the world! Each room is adorned with statues, fabrics, artwork, and more that she brought home. Notable pieces include the living room coffee table which is several centuries old and made from a door originating in India. The bookshelf just inside the front door is also from India. Laura also brought back many pieces of furniture made from palisander, a hard wood indigenous to several African countries. The drapes throughout the second floor and part of the first floor are made with silk that Laura brought back from India, and the four guest rooms are appropriately named according to their theme – “Asian King,” “Asian Queen,” “African King” and “African Queen.” Guest rooms also feature various fabrics from Laura’s travels – a nod to Sharon’s love of fabric as a quilter and seamstress.
Co-owners Sharon and John Dills have a total of five children including Laura, and are long-time residents and lovers of Old Louisville. They are very excited to be living their dream of running a B&B. Sharon is a retired nurse who loves cooking, baking and hosting parties for her friends and family. She is also an accomplished blue-ribbon-winning quilter, and her work is displayed around the B&B for guests to enjoy. Sharon has collected an extensive library of Louisville and Kentucky history books that are available for guests’ reading pleasure. In addition to managing a busy B&B, she serves as the Vice President for the 3rd Street Neighborhood Association. John is a Louisville native who loves horse racing, having grown up near Churchill Downs. A retired mechanic, he is also an avid golfer and is familiar with many courses in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.