"The last unicorn wasn't really the last.
And maybe she still isn't.
It’s Virginia Garden Week and I traipsed around downtown Ashland. This was my very first Garden Week adventure (ever). I’m not sure why because it is so very me (i.e. looking at flowers and nosying my way into fancy homes). I walk around Ashland all the time. In fact, one lady on the tour recognized me from walking. Uh oh! It’s not like I peep in windows but sometimes I linger a bit too long at that which I consider beautiful.
When the tour announced that one of the most colorful homes I’ve ever seen, even colorful by Victorian Queen Anne standards, was being opened to the public for the first time I knew that I would be purchasing a ticket. The Queen Anne to which I am referring is at 402 Duncan Street. Built in 1891, it was the boyhood home of Christopher Chenery, the owner of the famous racehorse Secretariat. Currently, the house is owned by Charles Sthreshley, an artist who specializes in furniture made out of concrete.
On my walks, it’s always been obvious that it’s an artist’s home since there are sculptures throughout the lawn. I think most people in Ashland use this Duncan Street house as a landmark. I always noted that it was across from the dreamy albeit dilapidated haunted house that was torn down. It makes me so sad that a contemporary house has been built in its place but that’s a story for another day. I’m sure everyone thought that old house was an eyesore but I loved it.
Something about the dreamy haunted house being removed made me loathe this colorful gingerbread home. If folks mentioned it, I would roll my eyes. It didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t *this* home’s fault that the other was destroyed. Maybe I felt it was too showy, too colorful, too look-at-me? Today I learned how wrong I was. I sent a text to my fella that reads, “That gingerbread house is F*cking Amazing!”
Sthreshley’s art is displayed all around the house. The Garden tours do not allow any indoor photography which really was a shame because the Ashland Garden Club created the most amazing arrangements that were displayed throughout the homes. My absolute favorite arrangement mixed Sthreshley’s artwork with flowers. The piece resembles an orb with ragged wings. In the hole in the orb, the Garden Club members added a Bird of Paradise along with some other flowers which I cannot quite remember (proving another reason that I take pictures so often… memory fades).
The colors inside are bright but something about the design of his furniture brings life to this old house. It’s different, quirky, and fun! Would I want to live there? Absolutely not! It’s way too bright and it’s much too modern for me…even with my new found appreciation for the home.
|See the windows! That's the *plant* room.|
Two of my favorite parts include a room that is basically for plants. A wall blocks the living space from numerous large windows that is perhaps for privacy. Sthreshley holds orchids and other plants in the location. There is just enough place to walk in to water them but I doubt one could actually fit a chair comfortable. I could use a place for just my orchids for sure.
My second favorite place, and my favorite human livable space, is the balcony nook on the back of the house. What an amazing place to have coffee or wine.
The yard is open with plants dotting the property along with Sthreshley’s original artwork.
While the colors and style are not to my personal taste, it's nice to see someone take an old house and make it his completely. The house and yard appear loved and livable. It has not be renovated in a way that makes it appear like it is stuck in time nor has it been renovated in a way that makes it appear that it only belongs as a model home. Heck, in a world of box-houses when each of the houses in the neighborhood look exactly the same and in my own Homeowners Association forbidding hot pinks doors (or any colors for that matter), this place is like a unicorn. It's magical and rare.