When you drive up to Ann and Russ Perry’s Colonial Revival home, you pull up to St. Louis history. This 1927 residence was originally built for Robert Brookings Wallace and his wife Kathleen (nee Tirrell). He was the longtime board chairman of Washington University and the founder of Brookings Institution in Washington, D. C. The architect was St. Louis’ very own James P. Jamieson, who often designed homes for the St. Louis carriage trade. The Brookings family had been patrons of Jamieson for many years.
The house is now enlivened by the Perry family. Ann is an artist with a definite passion and gift for interior design, having designed all the interiors herself. Russ is the president and CEO of R. E. Perry Company, as well as director of North American Marine Consultants. He also owns a scallop farm. The Perrys lived in Florida for 15 years, then moved to St. Louis for seven years, and took 16 months to explore Nova Scotia (Russ is a certified ship’s captain) before returning to St. Louis two years ago. This house is a balanced combination of their love for the coastal life of both the South and the North.
This house evokes what I call ‘Southern tired’ charm, which can be dressed up or down. Slipcovers, shells, silver and sisal combine to give it the relaxed living ambience this family needs. All of the textures harmonize in shades of white, pale blues and greens, wheat, and brown with touches of gold and silver that add just the right amount of shimmer to enhance the patina. Ann has worked her magic on several pieces in the house; a French four-drawer chest in the dining room stands out as one example.
When the Perrys first looked at the house, it was full of bunnies, yes, rabbits, because the former owner was devoted to ‘bunny rescue.’ So 17-year-old Allison Perry candidly referred to their new home as ‘the Bunny house.’ Since son William, 13, is allergic to bunnies, a thorough cleaning of the vents, woodwork and walls was necessary before the family could move in. This was the jumping-off point for Ann to lighten the space and create rooms that flowed seamlessly into one another. The home can entertain six to 60-plus very comfortably, without sacrificing the intimate feeling that has been created.
The 2 ½-plus acres provide beautiful grounds. “This really is like Snow White’s forest,” says Ann. “When we moved in, deer, bunnies, squirrels and raccoons would all come right up to the windows to be fed; it was obvious that the former owner fed them all!” This year, Russ added the most wonderful raised-bed herb and vegetable garden outside the kitchen. Now Ann, who loves to cook, can literally walk outside her back door and select from an array of fresh ingredients. Just like she’d do on the coast, South or North.