See this home at PRC’s 47th Annual Holiday Home Tour Patron Party presented by Gallo Mechanical on December 3.
During their regular walks around Coliseum Square with their French bulldogs, Louie and Lady, Amy and Garrison Neill often wondered about a stately Greek Revival home on the park.
“We had been watching this beautiful house that had been in disrepair go through a renovation,” Garrison said. “We’d peek over the fence and try to see what was going on.”
After that renovation stalled, the house sat empty, and the Neills became more intrigued by it. They were drawn to its Lower Garden District location and its ample space, not only for themselves and their daughters, Ivy and Olive, but also to accommodate visiting friends and family members. (Garrison has six siblings; Amy has three.)
“The more we explored the house, the more we fell in love with all that it had to offer in terms of character, amenities and space,” Amy said. “It had all of the upgrades we were looking for, and we also had the unique opportunity to finish it and make it our own.”
Buying the house in March 2020, just as the pandemic shutdowns were starting, was a leap of faith. “It actually was one of the scarier decisions we’ve ever had to make: to try to time it with a newborn and selling our old house,” said Garrison, vice president of Paris Parker Salons, a division of Neill Corp., his family’s business.
Photos by Liz Jurey
The Neills’ resurrection of the circa-1850s house is the latest chapter in the property’s storied history. It was built between 1847 and 1851 by Elijah Peale, a Natchez, Miss., native, according to the Preservation Resource Center’s 30-page architectural history of the property. (Read the house’s full history at PRCNO.org.)
A portion of the rear of the house was damaged in a fire in 1851, and Peale acquired neighboring lots to expand the property as part of its renovation. Over the years, the house changed owners several times. In 1935, it was converted from a single-family dwelling into an apartment house with 14 units.
In 1971, preservationists Camille and Duncan Strachan bought the property, launching a full renovation, restoring it to a family home, and working tirelessly to revitalize the neighborhood. They helped found the Coliseum Square Association in 1972. (It was renamed the Lower Garden District Association in 2018.)
The Strachans owned the home for 43 years, longer than any other family. While raising their five children there, they connected the rear-most outbuilding on the property to the main house.
After Camille Strachan sold the property, it went through another series of owners and two stalled renovations. “By the time we bought the house, it had been under construction and uninhabited for five years,” Amy Neill said.
The couple hired Billy Goliwas of Protocol Construction and embarked on an eight-month renovation to make the house habitable. The Neills layered in period-appropriate details where possible, installing wide-plank pine floors — Acadian Millworks milled them from old beams — in the kitchen and family room. They found the front parlor’s matching chandeliers at Second Chance, a Baltimore-based workforce development nonprofit that deconstructs buildings and sells salvaged materials. It was founded by Mark Foster, Amy’s uncle.
The couple kept the exposed brick walls in the entry, the dining room and part of the double parlor. They embraced color in other rooms, painting the library in Bookroom Red, a retired Farrow & Ball color, and the bar in Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue. The large light-filled family room took its design cues from the couple’s two years living in California.
The Neills infused the home with their eclectic style through a mix of inherited family furnishings and antiques. The entry’s light fixture once hung in a church in Spain; Amy found it on Chairish, the online vintage retailer.
Anne Rice’s pool table — acquired by Garrison’s parents at an auction after the famous author’s death — commands the center of the double parlor. The entry’s ornate floor-to-ceiling mirror — found at Renaissance Interiors — once hung in Emeril Lagasse’s home.
The house now works well for the busy family. The kitchen’s stunning centerpiece is a massive, marble-topped island. It’s a “dream,” said Amy, an avid cook.
As grand as it is, “the house has a lot of the functionality that I always wanted,” Amy said.
Photos by Liz Jurey. Click to expand images.