Fayette Park Restored and Restyled
This column last appeared on these pages four years ago. A lot can happen in four years. For instance: I have two more children than I did four years ago (hellish but worth it.) Maybe others had the same idea because 7,775 new houses were built in Lexington in the past four years.
I back-breakingly renovated two Victorian houses (also hellish but worth it), which not so many people did. See above statistic.
Seven hundred and two "big box" stores replaced a horse farm in a place called Hamburg Pavilion. Lexington is now officially known as "The Horse Capitol of the World." Four years ago some pretty groovy old buildings lived downtown; now we have about 100 parking places where they once stood.
All this leaves me wondering what kind of architectural record we who are creating and building in the 0's, or the aughts, or whatever you want to call them, plan to leave behind us. It is looking as though the word "disposable" will be in there somewhere. We are a little too quick to tear buildings down when they need repairs or restructuring. At the same time we are also awfully ready to throw up any old thing regardless of its form or durability.
My rumbles and rambles are just questions. The answers lie somewhere with corporate responsibility, an investment in the community (how serious can Old Navy really feel about anything in Lexington when anyone who matters is at the Gap HQ in California planning world domination through khakis and cargo pants), and citizens who care more about livability than cheap silk flowers.
Interestingly, in this newer-is-better climate some residences are being rehabilitated. Several turn-of-century mansions are being renovated on Ashland Avenue and Third Street. Individuals are quietly beginning a restoration renaissance.
Dr. Simon Abraham (pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon), our hero of the week, bought a big, beautiful house in Fayette Park with an eye towards renovation. Then he realized that it needed a bit of work. Then he realized that it needed a lot of work. So after living in the house for two months he hired architect, Anthony Eardley, moved out of the house and into a rental, and began renovation. Then he got a job. In Indianapolis.
He could have stopped where he was in the rehab. Or he could have finished it inexpensively. Instead he chose to persevere with his original plan. Which was to enhance the 1890 two-and-one-half story brick house with everything from a new roof to new toilets.
The front half of the house retains a turn-of-the century feel. Massive double doors with original bronze hardware and French cut glass set the tone. Two stained-glass windows (of four in the house) highlight the 30-foot long entry hall. The showstopper is a large leaded window in blues and yellows containing a landscape theme attributed to Tiffany Studios.
Clearly this house was built with all of the best materials and craftsmanship, which is why it was so important that the renovations were completed in the same spirit. The back of the house has been completely rebuilt using the best materials and craftsmanship available today. The brand-new kitchen is as chi chi as it can possibly be with its stainless steel Jenn-Air appliances, cherry cabinets, and Kashmir granite countertops.
With the quality of materials and the level of perfection used to renovate this house it seems unlikely that Dr. Simon is going to make much of a profit. I'd like to think that he just wanted to do the right thing. Maybe a bit naive of me to think so but maybe a good lesson for our community.
Lissa Sims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
432 Fayette Park
Approximately 4000 square feet
2 1/2 baths
Contact Jim McKeighan at 233-9995