For want of a garage, Everett Powers bought a house.
And for the 40-plus years he has owned his Garden District home, it was mostly the car that called it home.
Powers bought his home in the mid-1970s while working for WAFB news because he "needed a place to store my car," he explained.
For years, while he served in the military in Germany, traveled and worked for a newspaper in Texas, Powers kept his rare Jaguar XK-150S — bought for $1,550 from the estate of a man who came to build the Port Hudson paper mill — in a friend's garage. When the friend moved, Powers bought a garage and the house that came with it. After many years, he traded the car with someone in Switzerland for a new Mercedes roadster.
Powers lived in the home in the 1980s and early '90s when he worked for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, the last eight years as director. In 1994, he was hired by the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, where he worked until 2007 when he retired as president and COO. Even though he purchased a home in South Carolina, he kept his Garden District home and returns several times each year for monthlong stays.
"From the outside, it looks like a bungalow, but inside it is anything but," Powers said. "It has tall ceilings, large rooms and virgin cypress construction."
From the beginning, Powers' goal was to keep the plan and style of the home as original as possible. So, while he often changes colors and furnishings, he has never knocked down walls or made other major structural changes.
Right now, the walls are painted Kilim beige with white trim, and shades are on all of the home's 38 windows.
Powers personally selected every item of furniture and every accessory in the home. He often swaps items between his two houses.
"Everything here means something," he said. "I accumulate things in thrift shops, high-end consignment shops, antiques shops in New Orleans and antiques auctions. I have an eye for a bargain."
An earlier owner converted the little porch to create a solarium, which Powers has decorated with vintage wicker in an Art Deco style. An old wood stove painted white makes a perfect accent table.
In the living room, Powers replaced a window to the solarium with a stained glass work, "Jacob's Ladder," by artist Stephen Wilson.
"I commissioned Steve to do the window with no instructions," he said.
Two chairs in the living room are from the old Capital House, purchased when the downtown hotel closed. Powers had the chairs ebonized — stained black like ebony — and covered in cowhide.
In the kitchen, a 700-pound butcher block from the old Lakeshore Inn takes center stage as the island in the large room. The manager told Powers he could have the butcher block if he could move it, which he did with the help of a group of friends. White tile tops the counters, and white appliances, including Powers' mother's 1950-vintage Maytag range and an antique schoolhouse light, give the room a comfortable traditional look.
The dining room and master bedroom are opposite each other and are about the same size with bay windows on the outside walls of each room. The dining room is centered with a conference table purchased from an estate in Spartanburg.
Powers made the biggest changes in the master bath, when he replaced the bathtub and sink with a claw-foot tub and vintage sink from an old house in Plaquemine. For storage, he added an antique cabinet.
A second bedroom, open to a solarium at the back of the house, creates a guest suite.
With assistance from landscape architect Cynthia Cash, Powers turned his backyard into a brick courtyard with a pool. By himself, he built an 8-foot privacy wall on the west side of the property.
"The wall and the small seating walls around the courtyard were all of my nights, vacation days and holidays for five years," he said.
Powers now considers Spartanburg his residence with Baton Rouge, where he grew up, his second home. Over the years, he has rented the home to visiting executives or people working on movies.
"I tell people that when I finish pulling weeds in Spartanburg, I come and pull weeds down here," he said.