Robert and Eva Wessels own the Central Park Bed and Breakfast, a historic Victorian mansion and one of eight stops on this year’s Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour. Although the three-story home at 1353 S. Fourth St. was updated for modern accommodations, it has been around since 1884 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Full of history
“Vernon Price was the owner, along with his wife and family,” explained Eva. “He was a vinegar maker, (and) the president of the Saturday Evening Post, (and) served on the board of directors of L&N Railroad. He was a mover and a shaker of the day. “
Eva said the house next door was believed to have belonged to Price’s mother-in-law, which would explain certain similarities between the two villas. The sun decorations inside the Wessel house, for example, correspond to the design of the outside of the neighboring house. The fireplaces in both are also finished with the same Cincinnati Rookwood tile.
More than a century later, certain aspects of Price’s original residence have been preserved. Guests can still walk on the original encaustic tiles in the dining room and use the hand-hammered brass fittings throughout the house.
“Every shutter and door on the first and second floors is original for the house,” added Eva. “It was never dismantled into apartments, except (for) the third floor. … It has always been privately owned, and that’s why you have the integrity of this house. “
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The skylight window above the front door is also original. “We had a Russian stained glass guy,” said Eva. “He took a picture and replicated the pattern in the door.”
Just past the front door on the left is one of only three split fireplaces in Old Louisville. “It’s the only one with the original glass,” said Robert. The angel in that stained glass, added Eva, is the reason they bought the property in the first place.
“We actually bought the house because of the angel in the fireplace,” said Eva. Christmas is her favorite time of year, which is why she and Robert agreed to open their place to the public for the Holiday Home Tour.
Reason for the season
Preparing for the annual tour, which was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, is no easy task.
“We’re closing … for three full days (for decorating),” said innkeeper Majestic Harry, who adds her own twist to the Christmas decorations by filling various vases in the kitchen with oranges and cranberries. “They used to string cranberries,” she told The Courier Journal. “They used to be decorated with cranberries, popcorn and oranges – so that’s my homage. I hope when people do the tour they will (make the connection) because in the 1800s and 1900s they had to decorate that. “
Eight Jacqueline Kent Christmas singer figures, which have long been part of Eva’s decoration collection, stand on a shelf above the vases. “This is special to me,” she said. “I worked at UC Davis for 30 years – I was a nurse – and over time I bought it in a gift shop. … you are probably 30 years old. … I’ve had it for so many years. These are special ornaments for us. “
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Another particularly telling piece is the antique goose feather tree near the side door. Robert’s grandmother used to put up a bird tree, so Eva tries to copy it every year. “It’s (a) very traditional German (decoration),” said Robert.
Eva added: “Queen Victoria’s husband was from Germany, so they started with the Christmas tree. Price Albert started the Christmas tree tradition in England and it came here. “
Of course, the house is filled with an abundance of other decorations as well. From Christmas trees and wreaths to candles and Mark Roberts ornaments, the mansion is filled with Christmas decorations. However, Eva emphasizes that Christmas means much more to them than decorations and celebrations.
“The Messiah is the reason for Christmas,” she said. “In fact, we have dedicated a room to the Three Wise Men, Mary and Joseph, which you will notice if you go in on the right. Christmas is the time when we should all remember the real reason. “
The Old Louisville Vacation Home Tour
WHAT: The Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour highlights the rich and diverse history of historic Old Louisville during the Christmas season. The 2021 tour will feature two iconic mansions and six other homes in Old Louisville.
IF: 4th-5th December, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: The ticket office is located in the Old Louisville Visitors Center in Central Park, 1340 S. Fourth Street. Every home on this year’s tour is within three blocks.
TICKETS: Tickets are $ 30 and can be purchased online at old-louisville-neighborhood-council.square.site or in person at the Old Louisville Visitors Center. Children up to 12 years are free. A mask is compulsory at the entrance. Visitors must begin at Will Call at the visitor center to receive their brochure, which acts as an entry ticket and lists all eight participating locations.
PARK: There is ample on-street parking, as well as the Filson Historical Society parking lots on Third Street and Goodwill Lot on Fourth Street opposite the Louisville Bourbon Inn.
MORE INFORMATION: For more information on the Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour, visit oldlouisville.org/holiday-home-tour or call 502-635-5244.
Nuts and bolts
owner: Robert and Eva Wessels.
home: This is the Central Park Bed and Breakfast, a 7 bed, 8 bath, 8 square meter Victorian mansion in Old Louisville, located in 1884 at 1353 S. Fourth St.
Distinguishing features: Fine antique furniture and examples of exquisite craftsmanship; visible architecture of the original construction and details in the front porch ceiling, stained glass windows, oak and artfully hammered brass fittings; 11 chimneys.
Applause! Applause! Contractors Harry Edelyn and Tom Boone.