When they were both students at University City High School, Edwin Pepper was teaching his girlfriend Lenore how to drive, and he turned into a quiet street in Richmond Heights.
“That was the first time we saw this house,” says Lenore. “And we told one another that we would live there someday.” In 1988, some 30 years or so after making that promise, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Pepper and their three young children moved to the half-timbered English style home that first captivated them as teenagers.
“By then, the house was almost hidden from the street, because it was so overgrown with shrubbery and weeds,” Lenore says. “I didn’t even know there was a porch on the back!” Although the new homeowners were thrilled, not everyone shared their enthusiasm, she adds. “When my mother saw it for the first time, she just looked at me and said, ‘Oh Lenore! Are you sure about this?’ Of course, we’d been sure for a very long time,” she explains. “But we were moving at the same time we were starting the business, and I was also president of the Women’s Division of Jewish Federation. Everyone thought we were crazy!” The ‘business,’ of course, is Edwin Pepper Interiors, the award-winning design firm that Lenore and her husband started with one truck and two men.
Today as gracious and welcoming as the couple themselves, the Pepper home was the perfect setting for ‘Cocktails and Conversation,’ one of the Saint Louis Symphony ‘Parties of Note’ in support of the 2010-2011 season. Parties of Note, organized by the Symphony Volunteer Association (SVA), is a series of private gatherings at unique venues, donated by the hosts of each event, with all proceeds benefiting the orchestra’s education and community programs. “We are so fortunate to have this world-class orchestra in our city,” says Lenore. “We’re just delighted to have an opportunity to support the symphony.”
Walking up the circle drive to the Pepper home, an illuminated turret hinted at the magical evening that awaited just inside the arched front door. Tables set with sweet and savory temptations were arranged in the terrazzo-tiled foyer, an expansive space offering views of almost every room.
Throughout their home, the Peppers have created a tapestry of their lives with cherished art and antiques. Many of their pieces were discovered on the couple’s European travels, including an 18th-century grandfather clock and Aubusson needlepoint chairs. An antique oil painting tucked under the staircase is a particular favorite, but Lenore and Edwin proudly display their most cherished art, created by 11-year-old granddaughter Brittany, on a gallery wall in the kitchen.
Perhaps it was the delicate sound of falling water that drew the music-loving group to the screened-in porch, where wicker tables and chairs circle a tall stone fountain. “Everyone always seems to end up out here,” Lenore says. “It’s one of our favorite spots, too.“ Although a dinner bell drew everyone to the dining room for a divine repast that included perfectly grilled shish kebab and succulent shrimp, everyone found their way back to the porch for after-dinner conversation. For anyone who appreciates fine music and good company in a splendid setting, it was a noteworthy evening, indeed.