High on a hilltop overlooking the small village of Maytown in Floyd County (population around 300) sits the Potter House at 169 Three Oaks Lane. With a magnificent terrace, arched doorways, pillars throughout and a pair of curved winding staircases in the 22-foot-high grand foyer, the house is astonishingly impressive and elegant. On first glance, it immediately puts you in mind of a charming French chateau. But other aspects of it remind you of an English manor house. Owner Patricia Potter coined the word “collectic” to describe it.
“We call it collectic because we collected ideas for it,” she said. “It had no true theme. As we collected ideas and things we liked, we would draw them up.”
Her husband, Ira, shared the story of how the marvelous mansion came to be.
“My brothers and I were in the construction business,” he said. “We had this property on a hilltop that we used for parking our equipment.”
The idea of building a house on the property was always in the back of their minds. In the mid 1980s, they finally consulted some architects.
“We had at that time a lot of drawings that I had mostly made,” Ira said. “We came up with a structure that was originally about 13,000 square feet.”
Before building began, they first checked the property to make sure there were no underground mines on it. “We found about 40 feet of really hard blue sandstone so that became our base,” Ira said. “We drilled holes into the earth to that level and put in three large sections of rebar, and then we put concrete in the bottom of the holes. We built it to be extremely sturdy.”
Once the all-concrete first level was finished, work began in earnest, with three levels added to make a total of four. There are 10 bedrooms, nine full baths, six half baths, three whirlpools, 11 fireplaces, a home theater with a 12-foot screen, a ballroom on the top floor and a hot tub in the pool house. There are marble floors in the foyer as well as in the formal dining room and living room. There is also an elevator with a 1,500-pound capacity that goes to all the floors. Out front to welcome guests is a fountain the Potters ordered from California. It’s just like one actor Nicholas Cage has. It took several years to build this high-class home, but the finished product was worth all the work.
“We think it's beautiful,” Ira said.
(subhed) Totally Us
The Potters initially imagined the house to be more in the Georgian style, but as they traveled around the world, studying architecture and reading magazines and gathering more ideas (they visited about 70 countries), it evolved.
“We put a lot of thought into it,” Ira said. “We decided we just had to have columns, so there are 30-inch columns.”
“I did the decorating,” Patricia said with due pride. “I did not have an interior designer, and that’s why we called it collectic. I didn’t want to have anybody else’s mind overpowering my mind. We wanted it to be totally us, to feel warm and friendly when people came, and I feel like I achieved that.”
“The decorating put our stamp on it,” Ira agreed.
The Potters’ personal touch looms over guests as they first come inside the house. The foyer is accented by a beautiful chandelier and a painting in the ceiling of four cherubs – the Potters’ grandchildren – by local artist Mack Martin. Martin also painted the scenes on the walls of the formal dining room and in the owner’s suite.
Another way the Potters incorporated their own special touch is in the logos found in various places around the house. You may come upon a crossed olive branch with a PH (for Potter House) on it. Patricia’s mother’s name was Olive. The logo was etched on the granite hearth in the library and appears in gold on the front gates.
The Potter House was the place to snag an invitation to a rockin’ Derby or New Year’s Eve party. The Potters built an entertainment area complete with both a wet and a dry bar, lights, a stage and dressing rooms backstage for the bands who came in to play at their parties.
“We had a lot of fun with that,” Ira said. “We were not close to anyone so we didn’t have to worry about noise.”
The house sits on a total of 7 acres.
“It’s great for a lot of things – stables, a driving range, a miniature golf course, a helicopter pad,” Ira said.
These days Potters find themselves spending more and more time in Richmond with their family, which includes those four children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, so they have decided to put their well-loved home on the market.
“It will be a great place for a large family,” Ira said. “They can be out of each other’s way. You could go on vacation just by going down the hall.”
With all the room it offers, the house also has the potential to serve as a medical or academic center or even an exclusive club.
“We have thought of it being used as a bed and breakfast,” Patricia said. “It is sad to know we have to go. It’s been wonderful. I always come up the driveway and I’m in awe even now after this many years. I felt so fortune to be able to live in that kind of house.”
This week’s feature home is listed with Beth Bell Brown of Rector Hayden, Realtors. To view more photos of the home, visit the Homeseller gallery at Kentucky.com.