Darlene Metts’ parents were married in 1943 at 1440 St. James Court when the Mormon Church was headquartered there (now home to Pat Mahaun and the Inn at St. James Court, also a featured home on this year’s tour). It seems as though it was destined for her to end up in the very neighborhood in which her parents began their lives together. Darlene was born and grew up in Louisville, but spent almost thirty years in Carmel, Indiana, where she and her former husband owned an insurance and securities business. She says of her return to Louisville in May of 2011, “I retired from marriage and business at the same time and came home.”
Darlene picked out a lot in Norton Commons with the intent of building a home there. After her third visit, she decided against it, feeling instinctually that it wasn’t an ideal neighborhood for a single woman. In search of other housing options, she happened to “rediscover” St. James Court. Having only been in the area during the St. James Court Art Show, she’d never gotten a good look at the houses but was now thoroughly impressed and certain that this was the neighborhood in which she was meant to live. Rollia Knight, longtime St. James Court resident, was putting a “For Rent” sign out in front of an apartment across from the fountain. Darlene wrote Rollia a check on the spot, knowing that, even though temporary, the apartment was the first step towards her life in Old Louisville.
Desiring more room for herself and overnight family stays, and to have a place where she could own a pet, Darlene purchased a condo in the St. James Court Flats early the following year. At 1,600 square feet, it allowed her to retrieve more furniture and belongings from storage and had enough room for her children, grandchildren and even her great granddaughter to stay. Now free to have a pet (something the apartment did not afford), Darlene adopted Bella, a Teacup Yorkshire Terrier. She still desired to have a house of her own in Old Louisville, but was comfortable in the condominium and very much enjoyed tending the green space on Fountain Court beside the building.
Darlene had walked by 419 Belgravia Court many, many times during the four and a half years she lived at the Flats. She was aware that it had been on and off the market for over three years, with college students living there at one point. Friends often encouraged her to take a closer look, and just before the St. James Court Art Show this year, she did just that. Seeing the house in a new light, it became clear that this was the perfect home for her. With the ideal combination of sellers who were willing to negotiate and Darlene, who was eager to become this home’s owner, the deal closed in just over two weeks.
Fit in among its neighbor brick residences in 1905, this is the only limestone house on Belgravia. Darlene purchased the 3,700 square foot beauty “as is.” Some minor interior improvements had been made, but there was more to be done, and she wasted no time in getting started. Darlene promptly took down an unsightly and broken-down fire escape. She’s given the kitchen a major overhaul by reconfiguring, repainting and removing cabinetry, replacing the dishwasher as well as the stove and its vent hood, and adding a beverage fridge.
Darlene removed old carpet from the library floor in anticipation of extending the wood flooring from the adjacent kitchen. However, covered completely with adhesive and leveling solution, the floor was impenetrable with nails. Scraping away the viscous mess, contractors discovered original tile and concrete floors in between the joists – a pleasant surprise that she was happy to have exposed. Also in the library is an art deco cast iron fireplace mantle she found at a junk store and relocated from the condo.
The home features all original inlaid patterned wooden floors and stunning chandeliers in the living and dining rooms which Darlene moved from her home in Indiana, and then from the condo. She thinks the house was probably re-wired in the 1970s or 1980s, at which time crown molding, pocket doors and other original elements may have been taken out. Darlene removed carpet from the front staircase, revealing beautiful wooden steps. However, it also uncovered the fact that they had severely pulled away from the wall, but Darlene has had them put back in place where they are now completely secure.
During this year’s Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour, savor how, in an amazingly short time, Darlene’s beautiful furniture, chandeliers, accessories and good taste have transcended this home back to its intended glory.