A master of the Southern tradition known as porch sittin’, Jennifer Roberts of Georgetown knows the value of a nice, wide veranda.
“It’s probably my favorite part of the house, especially in the summer” says Jennifer, who’s enjoyed the deep L-shaped veranda for the last 34 years. The 625-square-foot space at 661 South Broadway has seen its share of social gatherings — everything from a cozy party of two for morning coffee to a wedding rehearsal dinner for 25 and stand-up parties for 30 or more.
Wrapped around the northeast corner, it has plenty of seating for people and flower pots, thanks to wide, welcoming steps on either end and four concrete benches that connect six white columns along the perimeter. Brick walkways and terraces lead from front to back. In warm weather, Jennifer places a pair of beefy ferns on either side of the dazzling leaded glass front door. Year ‘round, the veranda presents endless opportunities for creative expression.
Most of the home’s 1.8-acre lawn are on the side and behind the house, says the Central Bank commercial loan officer. Years ago, Jennifer’s sons built a firepit amid the rocks that formed the foundation of a second house that used to sit in the backyard. Children flock to the sloping section when it snows; it’s long been the neighborhood sledding hill.
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
Built around 1907, the two-story Victorian sits at the southern end of the South Broadway Neighborhood Historic District, a collection of houses and other structures added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Jennifer’s house has been in her family since 1945 when her grandparents, Elroy and Denny Mallard, moved from Shelbyville, Tn., to open Mallard Pencil Company, believed to be the first or second manufacturing facility in Georgetown. An ample supply of cedar lumber and access to the railway system reportedly led to the decision to open the business in Scott County, but no one knows for sure. “That’s an age-old question that I wish I had asked,” Jennifer said.
Georgetown’s police department built its new headquarters at the Bourbon Street site after the Mallard Pencil building was razed several years ago.
Little has changed about the 3,249-square-foot residence in the nearly 75 years the Mallards and their descendants have owned it. Antiques abound. “I’m not a Victorian person at all. It’s here by default, because it belonged to my grandmother,” she explained. “I’ll have to do something with all of this stuff when the house sells.”
A massive cabinet that used to be in the old courthouse occupies a wall in the foyer. It’s filled with Jennifer’s horse show trophies. It will take several strong men to remove it when the house sells.
Original heart pine flooring has stood the test of time, as have two cast iron bathtubs. A commercial banker with Central Bank, Jennifer made sound decisions on three home improvement projects. For example, she chose timeless ivory cabinetry with deep drawers when she renovated the kitchen 26 years ago. More recently, she splurged on granite countertops for the angular peninsula and prep surfaces to give the well-maintained kitchen an instant update. She also added a mudroom, laundry room, and a convenient new outside entrance off the kitchen.
Across the hall, the dining room has served as ground zero for countless family gatherings and celebrations. “Special occasions are big deals with us,” the mother of two grown sons says. “We’ve celebrated many birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmas Eves there.”
Around the corner, the original stairway leads to all four bedrooms and a remodeled bathroom on the second floor. Ascend another set of steps to discover the home’s hidden gem: a spacious attic with a vaulted turret ceiling constructed entirely of wood. The possibilities are both many and varied, says Jennifer. It could be finished as a guest suite, a teen hangout room, an artist’s studio or exercise space.
END OF AN ERA
It’s taken Jennifer a long time to get comfortable with putting the family home she cherishes on the market. Ironically, the thing that makes it so difficult to leave—love—also is the reason she’s selling.
The woman who took on the mantle of her beloved hometown and once served as president of its chamber of commerce got married recently. She’s moving to Tennessee.
“The memories belong to my family, not to the house,” she said. “And I’m taking them with me.”
This week’s feature home is listed with Steve Roberts of Bluegrass Sotheby's International Realty.