218 E. Magnolia Avenue – Home of Danielle, Josef, Graham and Lyra Spalenka


Danielle and Josef are the busy parents of two young children, Graham (3) and Lyra (1). They enjoy walking their kids around the neighborhood, attending events with them in Central Park, and relaxing in their wonderfully manicured backyard!

Danielle grew up with her parents and two sisters in Warrenville, Illinois. She attended Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. There she earned her bachelor’s degree in history and music in 2006. She then moved to Washington, D.C. for an internship with the Smithsonian Jazz collection at the National Museum of American History. She also worked part-time as a docent at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. Following that, she took a job as a sales assistant with the New York Times, Washington DC branch. After a few years, she decided to return to school and pursue her master’s degree in Library and Information Studies with a focus on Archives and Records Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She began her studies in 2009 while also working in archives and preservation in departments throughout campus, at various non-profits and the city of Madison.

 

Josef grew up with his family in Cedaredge, Colorado and attended Colorado School of Mines where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics in 2007. After graduating, he applied for and was accepted into a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Materials Science & Engineering. It was here that Danielle and Josef both met through a mutual friend. After dating for two, years, they were married in 2012 at the Stoughton Opera House just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Danielle completed her Master’s degree in 2011 and Josef finished his PhD in 2013. Both worked in Madison until 2014 when Josef was offered a job at Genscape (an Old Louisville based company!) and relocated to Louisville.

When deciding where to live, Old Louisville was the top choice for Josef and Danielle. Renovations to the Genscape headquarters on Garvin Place were underway, and the prospect of being able to walk to work was very appealing. Their mutual love of history and older homes also played a major role in wanting to live in Old Louisville. Danielle hadn’t yet moved to Louisville when they began to look for homes in October 2014. With help from friends, they found a realtor, who sent many listings and scheduled ten showings in a single day that Danielle would be in town! Of all the listings they previewed, the house on Magnolia was their top choice, but they still looked in the Highlands and Clifton. The Magnolia home was the last viewing of the day. They immediately fell in love with its beautiful interior details and the big backyard. They made an offer on 218 E Magnolia Avenue that evening and moved into the house in December, 2014.

Their home is a 2,400 square foot American Foursquare with a partially finished basement. Built around 1903, the house was originally 216 E. Magnolia and was renumbered to 218 in 1909 when addresses around the city changed. According to the 1904 city directory, the first inhabitant (and likely the first owner of the home) was F.C. Paul. Mr. Paul didn’t live there that long, for the very next year the directory listed Charles L.W. Daubert residing at the address. Mr. Daubert, who lived in the house until his death in 1911, was part owner of Daubert & Schrecker Electricians, which was located downtown. Directories from corresponding years list a nearly constant list of rotating residents. The home was sold in 1927 to be used as a rental. In a November 24, 1929, Courier-Journal article, the home is listed for rent as a “modern 7-room home.” The very next year, in August 1930, an ad in the Courier-Journal lists a 3-bedroom apartment at 218 E. Magnolia for rent for $32.50, so it is likely the home was converted and chopped into several apartments very early on.

 

The prior owners lived in the house for ten years and spent much of that time renovating it. The home has double decks – one off the first floor and another off the master bedroom on the second floor. They have an intricate front staircase and a beautiful back yard.

Throughout the home, tour-goers will see several pieces of interest that Danielle and Josef have collected during their time together. In the first floor living room is an antique typewriter that the couple used in their wedding, a tea set from Danielle’s grandparents’ visit with family in Ireland, an antique book collection from Josef’s grandfather, and crystal candle holders from the 50th wedding anniversary of Danielle’s grandparents. Hanging along the front stairs are mementos from the couple’s honeymoon in Turkey, including a hand-painted plate in the style of the Hittite Empire, an Ottoman Sultan Calligraphy Seal, and a watercolor of boats in the Sea of Marmara in Istanbul.

The second-floor family room includes a beautiful telescope that belonged to Josef’s grandfather, which he and the couple’s son Graham use to stargaze at night. There are also three illustrations of Madison, Chicago, and Louisville skylines that Josef made himself. In the nursery is a hand-painted mural, stretching across several walls, created by the previous owners.

Four years after moving into the house, the couple still very much enjoy living and working in Old Louisville. Josef continues his work at Genscape as a Research Science Manager, overseeing the Sensors and Alternative Data Team. Danielle works remotely for the Northeast Document Conservation Center as a Preservation Specialist. Graham and Lyra both attend daycare at the Early Learning Campus, located on of the University of Louisville Campus, where children from the Smith, Adams and Gross families – all also on this year’s tour – have also attended.

Josef and Danielle are active participants in the Toonerville Neighborhood Association. Danielle is board member of the Conrad Caldwell House Museum and a member of the Old Louisville Runners and Walkers Group. They can often be found enjoying Central Park with their children and hanging out at the Old Louisville Brewery with other parents from the neighborhood.

 

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