Beyond the gates of one of the most coveted streets in the historic Central West End neighborhood sits the third annual Ladue News Show House: a grand World’s Fair-era manse created to rival the greatest of English estates.
Completed in 1904 by architect Guy C. Mariner (1875-1967), the stately three-story brick home at #23 Lenox Place hearkens back to Gilded Age glamour. St. Louis’ top designers will infuse their talent and creativity into nine of its stunning rooms, giving guests the opportunity to experience modern trends amidst an admired piece of St. Louis history.
The doors to the LN Show House will be open from Oct. 5 to 20 for attendees to tour the extensive 0.4-acre, double-lot property, as well as take part in a host of additional festivities, all in the name of benefiting St. Louis-area nonprofits. A preview party, featuring live music and the first sneak peek of the home, will be from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 3. And new to this year’s tour, two special Meet the Designers nights—Oct. 10 and 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.—will offer the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the Show House’s designers.
Sam Hall of Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty notes the home maintains a contemporary feel despite its rich 110-year history. “It is traditional, but it is also very accommodating for modern family living."
While 1,500 buildings were being erected in nearby Forest Park for the 1904 World’s Fair, architect Guy C. Mariner (1875-1967) was completing another timeless gem: an expansive English-style estate at #23 Lenox Place in the Central West End.
The historically elite and distinct property selected for the third annual Ladue News Show House, featuring work from St. Louis’ top designers, will be open for tours from Oct. 5 to 20. The tour and a slate of additional festivities will benefit four local nonprofits. This year’s home sets itself apart in its historic architecture and modern amenities, explains Show House publicity liaison Millie Cain. “The home has been updated over the years to take care of all the new living styles, but the owners didn’t do it at any expense of the original architecture. It has that Gilded Age glamour, but it is still a modern family home.”
At the end of a private gated street lined with historic gas street lamps in the coveted CWE neighborhood, the more than 6,500-square-foot Golden Era manse rests on 0.4 acres—the only double-lot property in the area, Cain notes. Mariner meticulously modeled the home to mimic epic English estates of the time period. “The architecture of this home was meant to remind people of their travels to the great estates in England,” Cain says. After attending Columbia School of Architecture in New York City and working under John Galen Howard, Mariner went on to practice architecture in St. Louis from 1900 to 1917, designing homes, hospitals, offices and libraries in the city, as well as the Jefferson City Supreme Courthouse.
Among the home’s stunning highlights that have been preserved are Old World handcrafted millwork, a rare Italian marble fireplace, a silk-lined dining room, an expansive master suite, a ballroom that sweeps across the entire third level, and double-hung windows, a black wrought-iron balcony and an elegant patio, all overlooking lush gardens and a carriage house. The unique touches are a window into a remarkable history. Thomas Jefferson is believed to be one of the inventors of double-hung windows, Cain says, while the Italian marble used in the home is virtually unavailable these days.
During the house’s rich 110-year history, four families reportedly resided within its walls and played host to St. Louis’ elite. According to former owners of the home, its original residents were part of the Walker-Bush family, related to President George Herbert Walker Bush. The house was reportedly later sold to the Schotten family, and then the Roman family, before being purchased by the Fitch family in 1987. Some of the most recent residents were prominent community health advocates, Cain notes. Dr. Coy Fitch served as the chief of internal medicine at Saint Louis University; while his wife, Rachel Farr Fitch, also was active and accomplished in the health care field. She was a nurse, who founded the Missouri Foundation for Health, as well as served as the director of Missouri Consumer Health Care WATCH, working as a health care advocate for women to reduce the city’s high infant mortality rate. Mrs. Fitch also was a master gardener, apparent by the impressive flower beds that surround the home today. Dr. Fitch remained on the SLU faculty for 43 years, and the Fitches were married for 54 years, Cain says.
Local designers have been working for weeks on their unique vision for nine of the home’s rooms, from the entry hall, grand hall and formal dining room to the sun porch, library, master suite, guest room, nursery and upstairs landing. In addition, Neiman Marcus has stocked the butler’s pantry with its modern wares. Guests will have the chance to talk one-on-one with the designers during two special Meet the Designers nights—Oct. 10 and 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. “To be able to see a historic house transformed to meet today’s lifestyle and design trends is a fascinating process,” says Show House volunteer liaison Lisa Malone. Attendees will learn the secrets behind the design, while also gaining inspiration for their own home projects, she adds.
Proceeds from the LN Show House Tour, sponsored by U. S. Bank, will benefit four local nonprofits. And volunteers from those charities are rolling up their sleeves to help run the event. “These people are so passionate about the organizations they support,” Malone says. “They are willing to do what they can to help the cause, and, in this case, it’s an easy and fun way to give back.” CWE Neighborhood Association members, including Karen Clifford, as well as mothers and their teenage daughters from the National Charity League, also are working on the project.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 2013 Ladue News Show House, sponsored by U.S. Bank
WHEN: Oct. 5 to 20: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; noon to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
WHERE: #23 Lenox Place in the Central West End
COST: $20 in advance and $25 at the door for the tour; $75 for the preview party; proceeds benefit local charities
SHOW HOUSE TOUR INFORMATION & TICKETS: laduenews.com or 269-8809
23 LENOX PLACE INFORMATION: The 6-bedroom, 3.5-bath property is listed for $1.285 million; contact Sam Hall, Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty, 725-0009