Alexandria’s Garden District Neighborhood Foundation and the Alexandria Historic Preservation Commission have teamed together again to present a Holiday Tour of Homes on Saturday, December 12th from 4:00pm until 8:00pm. Four historic homes will be open for tour in the historic Garden District, each with individual history and architectural character. Tour participants begin their tour at the First United Methodist Church, located on Jackson Street, where they can park their car, pick up tickets, and hop on the “Spirit of Alexandria” trolleys. Featured homes include the Wakeman Estate on Marye Street, the Constant House on Jackson Street, the Klamke-Hunter Cottage on Albert Street and the Bridendall House on Polk Street. Tickets are $25.00 each, and are available for purchase online at www.GardenDistrictNeighborhood.org or in person at Southern Chic Boutique and Main Dish & More in Alexandria.
The Wakeman House, located at 2122 Marye Street, is a 1922 stately red brick Colonial Revival residence, with a red ceramic tile roof and decorative brick, giving it an eclectic flair. It was built for Swedish immigrant John Thorsell, a self-made lumberman, his wife Lucy, and their two daughters, Esther and Sarah Ruth. Esther married Joseph A. Wakeman; they had five children. The home was occupied by Lucy Thorsell until her death in 1967, at which time her daughter, Esther Wakeman, moved in and lived here until 1974. The home was left to Joseph and Esther’s son, Monsignor John Wakeman, who said Mass in the butler’s pantry every day and moved into the house upon his retirement. The home stayed in the family, undergoing renovation by Anne Bailey Leibowitz. She and her four sons lived there until 2005. Five generations lived in the home before Allen and Lizette Smith purchased the home in 2006. It features a grand foyer, original light fixtures and hardware, interior French doors, exquisite multi-paned beveled glass windows, and a remodeled kitchen design by Barbara Downs. The rooms are decorated with antique family heirlooms and the Smiths’ art collection. The estate also includes an original fish pond in the backyard and well-preserved carriage house/garage.
The Southern Colonial Revival Constant House was built between 1915 and 1916 by Frank and Lucie Constant, who lost the house in a sheriff’s sale in 1923. James W. Alexander, founder of Alexander Bolton Insurance Agency, purchased it to accommodate travelers and friends. Guy Priest, an engineer on the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, bought the property in 1939 as supplemental housing for his family. The four-unit apartment building in the side yard was built to house soldiers during World War II in 1940. The Eisenhowers are said to have stayed in the main house, located at 2036 Jackson Street, during the Louisiana Maneuvers. The home was sold in 1984 following the death of Guy Priest, Jr. After outgrowing their previous office, Ken and Charlotte Wasmer purchased and remodeled the property in 2007 to serve as offices for their commercial and real estate development company. The main house is reputed to be a Sear’s kit house, and is nearly identical to the Frithland Plantation house near Bunkie. Its front façade is accentuated by colossal Corinthian columns, flanked by French doors. The main staircase banister and marble fireplace mantel are believed to be salvage pieces from the 1840s St. Louis Hotel of New Orleans (demolished in 1916). This decadent building features a solarium converted into a library, antique style furnishings to complement the natural light-filled rooms, and a beautifully remodeled kitchen and bathroom.
Recently rehabbed, the Colonial Revival style Klamke-Hunter cottage with classical elements is a refreshing blend of historic and modern. Built c. 1923, it was first occupied by Andrew Hero Bowman, a pharmacist, and his wife Letitia. After the Bowmans moved, Dr. Edmond Klamke, a physician from Denmark, and his French wife Helen purchased the property in 1940, and moved in with their children. While living there, Dr. Klamke served as the Director of the Rapides Parish Health Department. Following Dr. Klamke’s death in 1948, Helen lived in the house until 1967, at which time it was occupied by the Klamkes’ daughter, Nadine, and her husband, Bernard G. Hunter, an insurance salesman for Alexander Bolton. Mark Gravel purchased it from Nadine Hunter’s heirs in 2014, taking it on as a historic rehabilitation tax credit project. Original features of the house were preserved while it was updated with modern amenities, including a historically sensitive addition to the rear of the property, expanding it into a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home and incorporating historic salvage material into the new construction. Complete with open floor plans, custom-made cabinets, and original hardwood flooring, this eye-catching house shines at 2049 Albert Street, on the corner of Albert and Cushman.
The Bridendall House, an eclectic Queen Anne style house located at 1734 Polk Street, was constructed in 1910, most likely for its first known occupants, Carver Channing Brown, a dentist, and his wife, Nettie. It was occupied by the Cambres in 1915; they moved out and built the American Foursquare house next door at 1732 Polk. In 1918, Phillip Bridendall purchased the home as a residence for his family. Mr. Bridendall was the owner of Bridendall Photography, a prominent local photography business in Alexandria during the early to mid-20th century. The home remained in the Bridendall family for over 90 years, passing to Phillip’s daughters Louise and Sarah, both school teachers who never married. Current owners Alex and Lizzie Felter purchased the home in 2013. The Felters removed dropped ceilings, fluorescent lighting, and laminate wall board installed in the 1970s, returning the 11 foot ceilings, period-appropriate light fixtures, and original walls. This lovingly refurbished home is bursting with character, having retained many interior and exterior historic features, including a full-width porch supported by turned columns and geometric railing, interior pocket doors, transoms, paneled doors, dark stained woodwork, original fireplaces with glazed tile, and a rarely seen swooping roofline.
In addition to the homes on tour, 1921 Jackson St. and The Gallery House will be open during the tour for customers. Take a minute or two to shop for a unique art piece or grab a cup of joe before hopping back on the trolley. For more information or a complete list of Holiday events, visit www.AlexandriaPinevilleLa.com/holiday or call (800) 551-9546.