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Full Circle

Mid-1950s rancher gets blown out.

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The front door's just where it always was, so are the living room, dining room, and kitchen. But after that, this house and all its finishes, in and out, have just experienced a major blowout. Built in the mid-1950s, this was an undistinguished rancher. "Safe" doesn't begin to suggest how bland it was. Try "built" like a brick outhouse! Steel I-beams run underneath to ensure floors never sag. One-and-a-half-inch oak was used for subflooring.

Since it's in Chickasaw Gardens you would think the original builders would have given "looks" a little more attention. But the '50s were obviously not the high building boom that the Gardens have enjoyed at least twice, once following the subdivision's founding in the late 1920s and now once again. Today, the large, rolling lots and the central location make even the most unassuming house hot.

The Gardens began as Clarence Saunders' backyard. He started construction on his "Pink Palace" way out on Central in 1922. Sited to overlook the links of the Memphis Country Club out front, he planned a second golf course out back -- his own. A little readjustment on Wall Street turned his home into a museum and the never-built private course into the Chickasaw Gardens subdivision.

The much-publicized restoration of Colonial Williamsburg began about the same time and probably only fueled Memphis' love of Colonial Revival. But a few European styles, like the Tudor Revival, crept in too. Today Memphis still loves Colonial Revival, but this house was recast in a rambling French country style.

The main, two-story block features hand-mold brick. A central one-story wing is clad in rough-sawn board and batten. The antique pine entry door is under a long, copper-roofed front porch with hefty cedar posts and a Tennessee Crab Orchard stone floor. Cedar lintels over window openings add to the rustic character. The house has the feel of an old estate that has been refined over the years by a series of loving inhabitants.

The entry hall has a limestone floor and is ingeniously skylighted by one of the shed dormers. The living and dining rooms run across the front as they always have, but their ceilings have been vaulted to 12 feet and beamed. A custom limestone mantel holds pride of place in the living room.

The newly enlarged kitchen is now a suite of rooms. The butler's pantry adjacent to dining has its own sink and dishwasher, and a walk-in pantry is close at hand. The main room has an island with the cooktop set in granite. Oiled, maple butcher block is featured on work surfaces around the walls. Both kitchen and adjoining family room have reclaimed heart-pine floors, and the hewn cedar beams are repeated here as is the family-room mantel supported by antique marble columns.

The house wraps around a rear courtyard that is best viewed from a long, screened porch across the back. Old pine French doors from New Orleans open to this porch from the family room, hall, and master bedroom. A guest wing over the three-car garage and a wine cellar are reached from the family room. Upstairs in the main house are another three bedrooms and two baths.

The master suite occupies the other side of the ground floor. It has a rear sleeping chamber with a seating alcove overlooking the shady yard. Separate dressing rooms share a spacious bath with marble floors and vanities. An attached library/home office has pocket doors which reconnect to the entry, adding the final grace note and bringing this house, just as has happened with Chickasaw Gardens, full circle.

88 Lombardy Road

5,500 square feet

5 bedrooms, 4 full and 2 half baths; $1,195,000

Realtor: Coleman, Etter, Fontaine,

767-4100

Agent: Jeanne Arthur

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