When local architect Leslie V. Abbott constructed his first and only house in 1949, he used all the skills and acumen he garnered from designing and building commercial properties around Louisville. Renowned for designing Parkway Field, a professional baseball field in Louisville, and assisting with the design of bourbon distilleries, such as Brown-Forman and Bernheim, this man, who was self-taught with no formal college education, built a home that became a city landmark.
The home that he designed was his personal residence, located on the corner of Trevilian Way and Newburg Road. Instead of a cold, utilitarian space one might come to expect with a commercial space, Abbott designed his home in the “Art Moderne” style, which is currently known as mid-century modern. Some components of this style include curved walls and corners, a streamlined horizontal line, flat roof and an asymmetrical layout.
Sadly, Abbott only lived in his creation for four short years, dying of a heart attack in 1953. After the Abbotts, the home has only had three other owners. The current owners, Tom Cannady and Lindy Casebier, have renovated the home, incorporating modern and mid-century modern seamlessly.
The home is white brick with a bright turquoise door and a statement black-and-white awning. These colors were popular at the time the home was built — it was clean, simple and modern in 1949, and it remains that way in 2016. The windows wrap around the entire house, bathing it in natural light. There are curved walls all around the exterior of the home, most notably on the sides and back, where the windows follow the curve of the brick wall.
The home features large front and side yards, with a small patio in the back, and it sits on a busy corner offering a delightful sight to admire during daytime or nighttime hours, when the entire house seems to glow, light pouring out all the windows.
Abbott designed his home with the sensibilities he learned from his experience in commercial design. The interior is solid (and that is not an exaggeration) with three-foot-thick concrete walls reinforced with steel beams. The entire house is heated with radiant heat, which was considered very modern for the time.
Living & Dining Rooms
Entering from the front door, you walk into an expansive living and dining room with curved walls and windows on one side. A piano and curved couch are set around a fireplace, which is surrounded by beautiful art by the homeowner Tom Cannady. The walls are painted a light gray, as are many of the rooms in the house, acting as a neutral between the white and black accents throughout the room.
On the right side of the room is the dining room area. There is a large, mirrored wall with built-ins below. These built-ins and the dining table glass are curved, just as the opposing wall of windows and the couch are. Built-ins were very popular with this style, as they desired a sleek, minimalistic and functioning storage such as this rather than a piece of furniture.
Kitchen & Laundry Room
Next to the large front room is the kitchen and laundry room area. This room is also directly accessible from the side entrance. The shape of the room has remained the same, but the kitchen has been updated with modern appliances. A large, curved banquette is located below the generous kitchen bay window, following the curve of that exterior wall. The kitchen has elements of black, white and turquoise that are seen throughout the home.
The laundry room, located adjacent to the kitchen, has modern and vintage appliances. The original cabinet-style refrigerators, still working, have been moved into this room from the kitchen. They were originally located in the upper cabinets of the kitchen. There is a modern washer and dryer, with an old sink and other vintage cooking and cleaning products surrounding it. The owners even have an old-fashioned ironing machine (not pictured) and a vintage Coca-Cola cooler that weighs a ton without a single drink in it.
Sitting Room, Office & Bedrooms
This house has five listed bedrooms and four bathrooms. Three bedrooms have their own bathrooms, and two bedrooms share a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. Currently, the owners use two of the rooms as bedrooms. There is a master suite and a large guest bedroom. A smaller bedroom is used as an office, with the closet turned into a nook for books and pictures. Another bedroom is used as a sitting room to watch television. The guest room is beautiful, with a curved wall of windows and a floor-to-ceiling closet and storage built in. All of these rooms have completely different designs, as do their bathrooms. No two rooms are the same!
The majority of the living space here is downstairs, but the upstairs is a headliner. This area is billed as a bedroom with a full bath, but it’s used as a bar with a sunroom. The owners decorated this space to be as accurately vintage as possible, and it is like a walk back in time. The vintage working television plays shows from the era, and you can serve yourself a cocktail from the green bar. The entire room feels like a vacation!
Nestled above and following the expanse of the house is the large, concrete-walled attic, with swaths of natural light coming in through well-placed windows. This space is fully decorated, but is used mainly as Cannady’s art studio.
Servants’ Area, Patio & Garage
It’s a good house when the garage and a former “servants’ area” are notable. Abbott built an area near the back patio for servants to come in and change their clothes. That space also features a small bathroom. Keeping with the inherent design, the room also has a circular window. The current owners use the area as a mudroom and for storage.
The port windows shown in the servants’ area and the back door are echoed outside on the patio. There is no backyard, but simply a patio with a natural privacy fence of trees. The sitting room and guestroom back up into this space on one side, and the sunroom on the second floor looks down on the patio from the other. The port windows are also echoed on the side of the chimney and outside fireplace.
The garage is a work of art unto itself. With the incredible garage door, there are corresponding port windows with black internal square frames on an adjunct wall. The entire garage interior is painted turquoise with floors so clean you could eat off them. There is original art on the wall by Tom Cannady, as well. But the headliner of this garage is the vehicle pictured below, a convertible 1957 Ford Skyliner. It is like walking in a museum coming in here.
Thank you to Tom and Lindy for sharing this Louisville landmark, which they have so meticulously preserved.
Thank you to Sara Rounsavall for her photography.