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Evansville
Thursday, May 30, 2024

2024’s Most Beautiful Homes

How many of us get acquainted with a city by taking a stroll and perusing its homes? In Evansville, that method fits the bill. Neighborhoods burst with historic residences, edgy designs, classic styles, and a few surprises – and that’s not confined by city limits. Join us for a tour of these 10 homes that caught our eye.

Southeast First Street (at top)
Location: Riverside Historic District
Architect: Mursinna & Boyd in 1863
Style: Italianate
Significant Stats: Four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, and about 8,000 square feet
Why it Stands Out: David and Karen Lottes had recently built a home in Darmstadt, Indiana, when Kenny Drew, a fellow collector and owner of North Main shop American & European Antiques, suggested they consider buying a historic home that soon could come on the market. Known as the Sonntag-Bayard House for its prominent prior residents, this striking 161-year-old residence had an appealing story: 23rd U.S. President Benjamin Harrison gave an 1888 campaign address from its balcony, which later was removed. Conceived by the same architectural firm that designed Trinity United Methodist Church, it features an arched entryway, ornamental ironwork, and square campanile tower. Entranced, the Lotteses regularly called the owners for several weeks, hoping the home would be listed. When it finally was, “We walked in the front door, down the hall, and gave each other a look. We knew we were in trouble,” Karen says. More than just the architectural style hails from the Mediterranean. Cherry wood and stained glass used in the library, dining room, and staircase also were imported from Italy. The sandstone-colored brick villa is “impeccably maintained” for its age, Karen says, and retains original features like limestone lintels atop the windows.

Photo by Zach Straw

Winterwood Drive
Location: The Oaks, East Side
Builder: Harry Kramer in 1939
Style: Greek Revival
Significant Stats: Five bedrooms, three and a half baths, and 4,500 square feet
Why It Stands Out: Andrew and Mary Saltzman love their house in The Oaks subdivision so much, they’ve bought it twice. They first occupied it in 1991, having purchased it from Peabody Coal Executive Vice President Irl Engelhardt and wife Suzanne. Then, the Saltzmans moved in 2001, thinking they needed more room as their family grew to six. Missing their old digs, they repurchased the home on Winterwood and moved back in 2007. The house’s white facade contrasts with the many red brick homes around it, and its front-facing columns and balcony over the front door only add to its charm. The house has undergone several remodels since it was built, including the addition of a guest wing by The Oaks’ developer Dan Buck, who remodeled it as a part of the subdivision. Dotting the property are numerous 100-year-old oaks — hence the neighborhood’s moniker — and azaleas, but “every year we try to add something new,” Mary says. This has meant upgrades, remodels, and landscaping work. In 1997, they added the pool, and they completed a major renovation of the house in 2011. “It’s a very different house from when we first lived in it,” she adds.

Photo by Zach Straw

Bayard Park Drive
Location: Lincolnshire Historic District, East Side
Architects: John Anderson and Henry Veatch in 1928
Style: Tudor Revival
Significant Stats: Four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, and 3,100 square feet
Why It Stands Out: A century ago, Old World charm was the foundation for the planned Lincolnshire neighborhood on Evansville’s East Side. Featuring homes of similar style, the now historic district was one of Evansville’s first to be developed in the early 20th Century. Enchanted by its European architecture, Emily Mandel knew years ago she wanted to live in Lincolnshire. Now she, her husband Matt Walker, and their infant son Owen are the third family to own this stately, yet warm Tudor Revival. The current owners enjoy the same original appeal that’s been appreciated by the families who previously lived there. “I just like the Tudor style,” Emily says. “It reminds me of a European neighborhood.” The home’s distinctive brick exterior envelopes an interior featuring half-timbered walls, gabled roofs, hardwood floors, and built-in cabinets and bookcases. The family enjoys time outside on the patio and in the yard, where Emily has devoted much of her physical and creative energy to landscaping in the five years they’ve resided there. Working around the home’s magnificent mature trees, she says, “I’ve added a ton of plants, taken out some dead bushes, and added lots of perennials and annuals to put some color in.”

Photo by Zach Straw

Riverbend Court
Location: Riverbend Estates, Newburgh, Indiana
Designer and Builder: Othmar Jacobs in 1992
Style: Modern
Significant stats: Four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, and 7,000 square feet
Why It Stands Out: Othmar Jacobs, the Evansville and Newburgh homebuilder who died in 2015, designed and built refined residences across the Midwest, and he left his mark on this showstopper off French Island Trail. The semi-circle driveway is but one distinguishing feature of the home, owned by Frank and Judy Schultheis since it was completed 32 years ago. The couple love every inch of their house. The great room features a commanding 18-foot ceiling. The property includes a cupola poking up from the roof, and from there, “you can see all the way to Downtown Evansville on a clear day,” Judy says. Some of the couple’s other favorite features include their breakfast room with an open floor plan, the hardwood floors, and a walk-out basement, topped by a second-level deck and three third-level balconies all overlooking a water fountain in the yard. Judy says their back porch swing offers an unrivaled look across the Ohio River to Kentucky, Judy’s native state. “I tell her, there’s your home,” Frank says. The Schultheises moved in when their youngest child was 16 and have made many memories in the years since. “We enjoyed building our home and entertaining family and friends,” Judy says.

Photo by Zach Straw

Sycamore Street
Location: Newburgh, Indiana
Builder: Thomas Floyd Bethell in 1855
Style: Italianate
Significant Stats: Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and 6,300 square feet
Why it Stands Out: Jeff and Elizabeth “Bussie” Cox always had admired this pre-Civil War home on the Newburgh riverfront and made it theirs in 2007. They are the fifth owners of their 169-year-old home, which was built by Thomas Floyd Bethell, a Civil War captain and river trader. His connections came in handy during the three-year construction: The bricks, as well as sand for the mortar, were shipped from New Orleans, Louisiana. Upon completion, it was one of the largest homes on the Ohio River and stayed in the family until the late 1930s. “When you stand in the house and reflect on who lived here and what their life was like 150-plus years ago, it’s a pretty cool feeling,” Jeff says. The house lost its front porch in a late 1800s windstorm; the Coxes built a new one when they moved in. Otherwise, the exterior largely has stayed the same, and many original interior elements remain, including the hardwood floors, nine-foot doors, 14-foot ceilings, crown molding, and 18-inch-thick brick walls. When updating, the Coxes abide by Indiana statutes implemented by Newburgh’s Historic Preservation Commission. The couple have raised their five children here and enjoy watching Ohio River Scenic Byway passersby from their perch on a hill. 

Photo by Zach Straw

Riverview Court
Location: Ohio Riverfront near Downtown
Builder: Wilfred C. “Bud” Bussing Jr. in 1991
Style: Contemporary
Significant Stats: One bedroom, four bathrooms, and 3,800 square feet
Why It Stands Out: Jeff Kempf purchased the first home built for the Riverview Court development in 2012. By that time, nearly every lot of the exclusive neighborhood — tucked away along the Ohio River near Marina Pointe — was taken. Each home shares the wide, uninterrupted strip of lawn that ends at the river’s edge, a view seen here and enjoyed from passing boaters, barges, and riverboats. For Jeff, the appeal was immediate. The location, with its water view and quiet privacy, reminded him of his family’s home in Palm Beach, Florida. The cream-colored walls contrast with a dark metal roof. Inside, the entire top floor is open to the rec room and balcony. Jeff says adding a few walls could easily transform his home layout into two bedrooms. His favorite feature is the fireplace he designed. “It resembles a sailing ship, and the whole front is blue glass,” he says. Inspired by a moving ship creating a waterfall effect, it uses blue diamond glass tile that rises and flows down, surrounding a ship’s hull. Barge and boat traffic on the Ohio River provides soothing diversion, as do the bald eagles nesting nearby and interactions of other wildlife. “It just never gets old to walk through here,” Jeff shares. “Especially … we have such beautiful sunsets.”

Photo by Zach Straw

Washington Avenue
Location: South Central, near Haynie’s Corner Arts District
Builder: Elias Weber in 1865-1866
Style: Queen Anne
Significant Stats: Five bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and 4,400 square feet
Why It Stands Out: Pete and Amy Emery bought this historic property in 2016 and have worked to preserve it ever since — “it will take the rest of my life to restore everything,” Pete says. Original resident Elias Weber owned it for a little more than 20 years, but its second owner, Frederick Lauenstein, kept it in his family for 95 years. Lauenstein added its angular tower in 1890 – for which the house received its moniker, Tower Estate – as well as stained glass windows, a mahogany stairway, and hand-crafted fireplaces. Part of the city’s Washington Avenue Historic District, the stately house with distinct columns on its porch and Federal-looking windows is not only the Emery family home. One section is available as an Airbnb, a project Pete took on just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. He also established the Evansville Community Pottery Studio in part of the carriage house and invites artisans to use it. The next project, Pete says, is adding a private studio apartment to the building’s back upstairs area. Once done, it will have a bathroom, kitchen, and laundry facilities. Rounding out the property’s appeal are a small orchard, vineyard, and several gardens.

Photo by Zach Straw

Kansas Road
Location: McCutchanville
Builder: Unknown in 1907
Style: Modern Queen Anne
Significant Stats: Four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, and 4,045 square feet
Why it Stands Out: As the former owners of a Civil War-era home on Erskine Lane, Joyce and Greg Donaldson passed by the historic Coots farmhouse on the corner of Kansas Road and Moffett Lane every day, giving them ample opportunity to admire it. They snapped it up in 1997, dubbed it Wyndhill, and raised their two sons there. The 117-year-old house sports patterned wood shingles, a front-facing gable with light trim, and a wrap-around porch the Donaldsons added. The couple did away with the original slate roof due to cracking and replaced all the exterior boards, while trying to keep Wyndhill looking as it did when it was built. “We love this house. A lot of people do, too,” Joyce says. That affection is evident in a poem Greg wrote about the home and the lady who lives there for Joyce’s birthday more than 20 years ago. Landscaping enhances the property’s natural beauty. “Everything on the property blooms,” Joyce says, including peonies down the front drive, rows of mock orange, snowball viburnum, husband and wife pecan trees, and an allée of 25 walnut trees, outlining what was once a country road. “We have walnuts coming out of our ears,” Greg says.

Photo by Zach Straw

Lincoln Avenue
Location: East Side
Designer: H.G. McCullough Designers in 1977
Style: Picturesque, in the English cottage style
Significant Stats: Five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and 8,500 square feet
Why It Stands Out: Hilary and Trey Denton are no strangers to being featured in Evansville Living — their former home in McCutchanville was profiled seven years ago. They didn’t think they would leave it, but that changed when real estate agent Carol McClintock asked Hilary, an interior designer from California, to stage this house on Outer Lincoln Avenue. “I just spent so much time in this home, I started seeing the beauty in it. And I ended up buying it,” Hilary says. Prospective buyers of “the Butterfield House” — so called in homage to its first owners — were put off by its wide swaths of brown, but Hilary saw its potential. “Trees were covering it; we cleared that out. We painted it a stone color, a creamy beigy white. We put up sage green shutters.” The new-look design, she says, is inspired by Blaise Hamlet, a village of 18th Century cottages north of Bristol, England. “I saw a photo of this house, it really resembles it, except the entryway is different. It has cute little bird houses built into the eaves,” Hilary says. “I love the bay windows, the dormers, all the little details that give it character.” Besides the bird houses, her favorite exterior features are the house’s fountain and arch leading to the pathway. “And, of course, my garden,” she adds.

Photo by Zach Straw

Big Cynthiana Road
Location: West Side
Builder: German Township School District in 1920
Style: Federal Revival
Significant Stats: Four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, and 8,500 square feet
Why It Stands Out: When Michelle Peterlin first stepped into German Township’s former Kasson School in 2006, she was struck by its absolute stillness. She learned it had been constructed with triple width brick walls, which created a notable audial effect. Peterlin was taken by the natural light streaming through the more than nine feet tall windows. Both characteristics remain at the top of her appreciation list 17 years after she and her husband Frank purchased the house as their private residence. “Even though it’s a big house, we have it laid out so it’s very easy to care for,” she says. Peterlin designed the home’s high-functioning layout renovations, which were profiled in the July/August 2014 issue of Evansville Living. Bill Flowers, who bought the building from the newly formed Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in the 1960s and turned it into an apartment complex, added pillars, doors, a fireplace, and a chandelier from area historic structures before they were razed. The wedding of the Peterlins’ oldest child spurred the addition of cherry and apricot orchards, many privet, boxwood, and butterfly bushes, and a brick pathway. “I love to garden,” Peterlin says, “so I’m out there working on it. Even in the winter, I’m doing something.” 

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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