The walled front of Beth and Butler Fuller’s home creates an aura of mystery by concealing a large courtyard enclosing two separate “houses,” one on each side.
The entrance to the courtyard, the only opening in the wall, is a gate behind three arches just three steps from the street in their Stones Throw neighborhood.
“We have one bedroom, the master bedroom, on this side and two bedrooms on the other side,” Beth Fuller said. “The arrangement is great for us.”
The entrance to the master side is to the back of the courtyard. It leads to a small foyer, which opens to a very large living room with a deep bay window, a fireplace, two seating areas and a full formal dining area. Perfectly placed among items in the room are three of Beth Fuller’s most prized possessions — a German double harpsichord, a French-style harpsichord and a small Chickering grand piano.
Fuller is a professional concert musician who came to LSU from her home in Arkansas on a full piano scholarship. Her interest quickly gravitated to the Baroque composers who wrote their masterpieces for the harpsichord. She continued her studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and in Paris and Amsterdam.
“For a student to study the harpsichord, you must have a harpsichord,” she said. “I wanted to experience what the music of the great composers sounded and felt like on an original instrument.”
In the 1980s, she commissioned Eric Herz, of Boston, to make her German double harpsichord.
“It is all handmade,” she said. “It took 17 months to make. Eric said it was the finest harpsichord he had ever built.”
For 20 years, Fuller performed on the harpsichord throughout the United States and in Western Europe.
Her plan was to ship her fine German-style instrument to her concert venues.
“But when it came time to move it, Butler never would let me move it,” she said with a laugh. “That’s when I commissioned the French harpsichord that I traveled with. It was lighter to move and two feet shorter.”
Even though the Fullers’ living room is large, placing three musical instruments was not an easy feat.
“It took many trials to come up with an arrangement,” Beth Fuller said. “Ken McKay (the late interior designer) would send over his crew, and they would move the furniture until we got it the way we wanted.”
The master “house” also contains a modern kitchen and a library with upholstered walls to soundproof the room where Butler Fuller, an ophthalmologist, reads and watches television as Beth Fuller plays her harpsichords.
The home was built in the late ’70s by banker and Stones Throw developer Chuck McCoy and his wife, Ruth. The second “house” was “great for their teenage kids,” Beth Fuller said.
It has two bedrooms, three baths, and what the McCoys called the “cabana room” with big sliding doors opening to a swimming pool, towel hooks on the walls and wooden benches.
The Fullers redid the area to create an office for Beth Fuller, a guest bedroom and a den, now Butler Fuller’s hobby room.
For the Fullers, the large courtyard is another room in the house.
“Butler has his coffee and reads the paper there every morning,” Beth Fuller said. “We spend our afternoons there in cooler weather.”
It’s also perfect for entertaining, she added.
The large front courtyard is one of four courtyards surrounding the home. Beth Fuller enjoys working outside and caring for her plants.
“I am the gardener now that I am not performing,” she said.