The Lexington Philharmonic Guild is counting on voyeurism — getting an inside look at how other people live — to make its first holiday homes tour a smashing success.
On Sunday, eight houses on Richmond Road, plus one around the corner on Holiday Road, will be decorated for Christmas and open for touring.
This neighborhood was picked because "Richmond Road is so well traveled and so familiar to people in Lexington and people who come in from Eastern Kentucky," said Carolyn Rasnick, co-chairwoman of the tour with Janette Heitz.
"They have passed these houses hundreds of times, admired the exteriors and would like to see the interiors," Rasnick said.
One is Joe and Margaret Jones' house at 1640 Richmond Road, designed in California Regency style by the late Lexington architect James Frankel.
The ceilings are tall, rooms separated by graceful archways and the windows generous-sized, letting in plenty of sunlight. This is a house devoid of clutter, the better to show off the couple's art collection that includes more than a dozen Mexican religious folk art paintings Joe bought as a student in Mexico City.
Music is another love of the Joneses, both retired professors from the University of Kentucky, where they taught Spanish and Italian. In the living room are two harpsichords and a piano. Joe is an accomplished pianist. Margaret plays the harpsichord and the recorder.
In the entrance hall, visitors will see the rare clavichord designed and built in the 1920s in Italy by the late Victor Hammer, a prominent designer of typeface who taught at the art institute in Vienna before coming to Lexington, where he taught at Transylvania University.
In the dining room the walls are covered in wallpaper that is a reproduction of 19th-century French trompe l'oeil satin hanging drapes. At night when the lights are low, guests will touch the walls, thinking the drapes are real, said Margaret.
Christmas decorations at the Joneses are lovely, but far from excessive. "We don't have enough time or money for over-the-top," Margaret said.
This tour replaces the Philharmonic Ball that the guild used as its major fund-raiser since the early 1960s, said Faye Porter, who twice served as guild president.
"Balls have run their course," Rasnick said. "So many organizations do them, they have lost their appeal. We were looking for a fresh, new fund-raiser idea."