Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Tour of a Shreveport Mansion

There is a regular feature in our local newspaper entitled "Mansion on the Market."  I always enjoy seeing these magnificent homes in our area.  Recently there was a home featured that caught my eye.
"Bayou Pierre home is a fairy tale classic place."

After reading the article, my interest was indeed captured, so I called the realtor to see about the possibility of seeing and photographing the home for my blog.  She agreed to contact the family who currently owns the home for their permission.  She texted me back immediately with their consent and an appointment was made.

Coldwell Banker Realtor Sharon Martinelli met me at the house, gave me a tour, then turned me loose to photograph to my hearts content.  She also provided a history of the home compiled by the current owner.

It is this history, and my own personal research that I will combine with my pictures to share with you.  Come with me to this
"Fairy Tale Classic Place."

Ransom Edward Jacobs Jr. , born on May 15, 1886 in Shreveport, Louisiana married Grace Burgess of Alabama on May 17, 1914 and brought her back to his home town.  Grace was several years younger than Edward.  In approximately 1929 they had a son also named Ransom Edward.

It was in this year that Edward began the construction of this home for his young family, designed by renowned architect Edward F. Neild.  It was completed in 1932.

At 6,571 square feet, this one-of-a-kind property is now on the market for $2,500,000.

The location was on a hill in a wooded area with Bayou Pierre running behind the 5+ acres on the outskirts of town at the time.  It was full of Dogwood trees, stately oaks, and large pines.  Daffodils enhanced this naturally beautiful landscape in the spring time.
The house had beautiful features patterned after authentic English Tudor style.
The masonry throughout the interior and exterior is unique with its curving bricks, inconsistent size, and random large stones.
The owners have been told that masons throughout the city have tried to duplicate the brick work, but have failed to make the walls stable.  This certainly adds to the unique character of this landmark house.
The wavy pattern of brick work is evident in this picture
All of the windows are the original diamond-paned windows with leaded glass characteristic of the true English Tudor.  Another characteristic is windows that are side by side, placed closely together.
 These windows can be found in bigger rooms of the house such as the living room and master bedroom.

You will also find narrow, tall windows that can be opened by a crank.
 The roof is hand poured individual brick tiles made to look like actual wood.
There is a large surplus of tiles stored beneath the small house down the hill behind the house.
 The "Little House" was originally a wash house for the family laundry and a grounds keeper's cottage.  The original wash tubs once kept beneath the house still remain.
The current owners remodeled several years ago and also added this beautiful deck off the hill which overlooks the acreage to the Bayou beyond.  It actually has the feel of a 'tree house'.
The original workshop attached to the back of the garage was removed by the current owners and replaced with an apartment.  They also added a deck here to enjoy the outdoors without having to go down the hill.
Now that we have seen the outside, let us go inside.
The feature of the front of the house other than the amazing masonry is the recessed entry and massive front door.
Built in a time when superior craftsmanship and attention to detail coupled with fine materials were the standard, this home exemplifies the integrity of the period.  The current owners are only the second to live in the home and have maintained that integrity and originality of the structure and grounds.

The two and half story foyer in this historic treasure sets the stage for the remainder of this house.
It is lit by the original large iron fixture.
 The exposed oak beam ceiling detail automatically draws the eye upward.
Other beautiful features of this home are the preserved thick plaster walls, beautiful wood craftsmanship,
the arched doorways throughout, solid wood oak doors with original hinges and knobs, stained white oak floors and the ceilings both in the foyer and the living room.  The wood ceilings in the living room are 14 feet.
Each bedroom, the dining room, living room and library have fireplaces with working gas heater grates imported from pre-World War II Germany and the andirons bear the Nazi insignia.  This is interesting as the family was Jewish.
The iron sconces inside the living room door way highlighting the built-ins are original.
 Seen in the picture below is new duct work.  The original house was built before central air and heat.  It took seven months to install five zones of heating and air.  Oak flooring from the attic was used for the furring downs in the den and living room.  Ducts were routed through closets and the cabinets in the butler's pantry because of the thick solid walls.
Off the living room is the den.  Originally, it was an open Portico, but was enclosed by the Jacobs family in the early 50's.  The slate floors are original but the origin is unknown.
  Arched windows and a wood burning fireplace were added at that time.  The current owners converted the fireplace to gas a few years ago.
The amazing brick work can be seen on these interior walls.
 This doorway opens into a hallway that leads to the foyer and to the butler's pantry.  Again you can see the beautifully preserved white oak flooring.
 The Butler's pantry has the original forest green tile counter top which inspired the color choices for the house.
The current owners covered the walls of the charming breakfast room, adjoining the pantry, with forest green fabric imported from France to accentuate the oak beamed ceilings with the original Hunter fan and fixture.
The brick floors and windows are original and a copper roof covers this unusual shaped room.
The large formal dining room is also off the Butler's pantry.
Originally, the dining room walls were plain plaster as in the foyer and living room.  Thankfully all of the original floor plans were found in an upstairs closet.  They contained drawings for wood dental molding around the dining room ceiling and oak wainscoting that had not been installed.  The owners found a great master wood worker who was able to use salvaged wood from the home to make them according to the plans.

 The parquet flooring is only found in this room and is pristine.
The narrow mantel above the fireplace was imported from England.
To complete our tour of the downstairs we will see the kitchen.
I will warn you that it is anti-climatic.  In keeping with the times when servants did the cooking and small kitchens were seen as efficient, this one is typical.
The current owners kept the size of the kitchen, but lowered the 12 foot ceiling to 10 feet and installed recessed lighting.  They remodeled the kitchen in 1999 to make it more efficient with more counter space and newer appliances.
Now, let us go upstairs.
All bedrooms are on the second floor as well as the study and library. Notice the brass security rod over the banister.
The original Master bedroom was converted to a study and has one of the many fireplaces faced by rare black marble.
The once attached bathroom was closed off and remodeled to a "His bath/steam shower and closet.
 The main feature of the current master bedroom are the massive Tudor windows behind the large window-seat encased by lighted built-ins.
The walls are padded and covered with grasscloth fabric.
 Adjoining this room is a converted sleeping porch for the children, but enclosed in the late 40's or early 50's and now used as a dressing/sewing room.
The original bath has been updated for the lady of the house.  Notice the beautiful original arched doorway and doors.
 The guest room off the long hall include the original bath and fireplace.  The owners were able to preserve the original toilet and tub by accessing the plumbing through the dining room ceiling.
Further down the hall is the library/sitting room.
There are stairs leading down to another level to the utility room which was originally a large storage closet.
On this lower level was originally a screened sleeping porch that was enclosed and used as a bedroom for the owner's two sons.  They also modernized the existing bath.
Before going back downstairs, I decided to explore the intriguing attic.  This huge expanse of space held the only obvious evidence of the added central heating/cooling system.
In one of the two side rooms, I found this old chest and wondered what it might have once held.  It had to have been placed here before walls were in place and the attic will be its forever home.
Thank you Sharon for allowing me to share this one-of-a-kind, fairy tale place with my friends.

 Architect Edward F. Neild
I found information about the renowned architect Edward F. Neild from Shreveport, Louisiana to be very interesting.  He graduated from the School of Engineering at Tulane University in 1906 before going to Europe to study architecture and applied arts.

Mr. Neild designed some of the most beautiful buildings in our city and many are on the National Register of Historic Buildings.  He and his son designed the Louisiana State Capital Annex in Baton Rouge in 1936
 When President Harry Truman toured Louisiana, he was so impressed with Neild's design of the Caddo Parish Courthouse that he contacted him to design the courthouse for his own Jackson County, Missouri.
Caddo Parish Courthouse, Shreveport, LA
Neild was a consulting architect for the rehabilitation of the White House during the Truman years as well as the lead architect of the Truman Presidential Library.

Linking to Amaze Me Monday