Civic Club Holiday Tour

Crestwood home tour showcases
historic homes, public attractions

Visitors can explore McClains’ Civil War era home

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (November 2006) – Bethany McClain knew she would some day live in Pewee Valley. From the time she was a small girl visiting her grandparents’ home on Central Avenue, she knew she would grow up and one day move to this picturesque town for good.

Crestwood Civic Club
Holiday Home Tour

• Van Horn-Ross House, 138 Rosswood Dr., a
private home now owned by Steve and Bethany McClain. (top photo)
• D.W. Griffith Home, 206 N. Fourth St., La Grange, now owned by Donna and Ken Schwedler. (middle photo)
• Robert Morris Home, 102 Washington St., La Grange. (bottom photo)
• Lunch served at the Civic Club’s Clubhouse on Kavanaugh Rd., Crestwood. Seating Times are 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
• Tickets are $15 in advance or $17 at the door.
• Contact Anne Murner at (502) 241-5971.

One year ago, McClain and her husband, Steve, bought a home on Rosswood Drive. They had already been living in the area on Maple Avenue, but when one paticular house came up for sale, McClain said she knew “it was meant to be.”
Known as the Van Horn-Ross House, the pre-Civil War home was built in 1860. The Van Horn family lived in the home until 1903 when the Ross family purchased it. The Rosses lived there until 1978.
The third family to own the home, the Hintons, owned the home until the McClains bought it in 2005. Constructed in an Italianate design, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I’ve always loved older homes,” said McClain. She even played on the property as a child, poking around in the carriage house. Her grandparents property butted up against the original property on which the home sits.

McClain Kitchen

Photo by Helen McKinney

McClain's kitchen.

The home is one of three homes on the Crestwood Civic Club’s Holiday Home Tour and Luncheon. The tour is scheduled from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17. The other two homes are considered public attractions – the D.W. Griffith House and the Rob Morris Home, both in La Grange.
Many of the homes on the tour are of historical significance, said Civic Club member Linda Patton. Participants are given a map and can choose which home at which to start.
There are two seating times for lunch: 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Lunch is served at the Crestwood Civic Club’s clubhouse on Kavanaugh Road. Holiday decorations adorning the clubhouse will be made by Minish and Potts and will be for sale.
McClain’s home will be decorated with a festive Thanksgiving air. Beautiful old trees and colorful fall foliage surround the four-acre property. It also contains an English garden, complete with fountain and pond installed by the previous owners.
“I’ve tried to bring the outside in, in terms of decorating,” she said. Her dining room wallpaper contains a bird motif, in keeping with the style of the older home and more original furnishings.
The McClains had to completely redo the entire kitchen, which had not been remodeled since 1974. They chose older style cabinetry with legs and used a lot of crown moldings, features often seen in older homes. They made a conscience effort to preserve the history of the home, said McClain.

McClain Foyer

Photo by Helen McKinney

McClain's Staircase.

A huge, winding staircase anchors the three-story home, which contains three bedrooms, two baths, powder room, living room, family room, sunroom and kitchen. There are six fireplaces and 12-foot ceilings. A large wrap-around enclosed front porch completes the look.
As for decorating the 5,400-square-foot home, “I like a more livable décor. We’ve added antiques and colors we like to fit our lfestyle. We love entertaining,” said McClain.
The couple has added their own style of simpler, lighter colors and fabrics throughout most of the home.
But there is still a lot of history contained within the walls of this home. McClain’s grandfather had been a friend of Mary Gardner Johnston (1872-1966). He was a well-known oil painter from Pewee Valley and stepdaughter of famed author Annie Fellows Johnston.
In one of her artworks, Johnston had painted the original entrance to the home, said McClain. This painting has been in her possession for a long time and now hangs on the walls of her home.
“I love art,” said McClain. She has tried to gather works by Pewee Valley artists and “bring them home” to decorate her walls. While the Ross family was in possession of the home, one of the children, Herbert, became an accomplished painter.
Herbert Ross (1895-1989) studied art in Chicago, New York and Paris. Although his primary interest was portrait painting, he also painted landscapes of his hometown, producing about 100 oil paintings.
Ross has the distinction of participating in a special show at the state capitol along with other older Kentucky artists just after his 90th birthday in 1985. This was the last public exhibit by a man who gave away many of his works. He even painted a portrait of Mary G. Johnston, and the McClains are fortunate enough to have two of his paintings hanging in the home in which he grew up.

Here’s a look at the other two stops on the tour:

DW Griffith Home

• The D.W. Griffith House, 206 N. Fourth St. D.W. Griffith was born in La Grange in 1875 and had a distinguished career as a well known film director. His most famous production was “The Birth of a Nation,” made in 1915. The Griffith home was built in 1905 as a single family dwelling but later served as a funeral home. Griffith purchased the home around 1910 for his mother and aunt, living there himself from 1935 until 1939.
During his stay there, a sidewalk was built in front of the home, and his name is still visible where he wrote it in the concrete at the end of the walk. The present owners are Donna and Ken Schwedler, who bought the home in 1983. Among the homes furnishings are several artifacts relating to Griffith and his career.

Rob Morris Home

• Rob Morris Home, 102 Washington St. Built in 1840, this home did not come into possession of the Morris family until 1862 when Morris came to La Grange as a professor of Ancient History in the Masonic College (Funk Seminary). Morris and his family were still living there when he died in 1888.
Morris was the founder of the Order of the Eastern Star, an organization composed of Master Masons, their wives, daughters, mothers, widows and sisters for the purpose of promoting charity and good will. The Grand Chapter of the Kentucky Order of the Eastern Star purchased the home in 1918. All furnishings in the house date from the period 1862-1888, and some are original to the Morris family.

Back to November 2006 Articles.



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