Richard and Judy Kennedy's home in Lafayette doesn't just take you through rooms, it takes you back through time.
Enter through the front porch posts from the Billeaud Sugar Mill in Broussard and walk until you find your way to the back porch and its posts from the old Richard Chargois home, built in 1858. Along the way, you may notice the antique pine flooring rescued from Heymann's Department Store before it was torn down and a guest room containing a 180-year-old Cuban mahogany sleigh bed.
And that’s just the beginning.
Built in 1970, the Kennedys bought the home in Camelot subdivision in 1978 when it still had a pseudo-Spanish exterior, a rock garden and linoleum.
“Very dark," said Judy Kennedy, adding with a laugh. "We’ve renovated 14 times since I’ve retired.”
The homeowners have settled on an inviting mix of old-world finery and Louisiana ease.
The faux-Spanish low, overhanging arches and wrought iron are no more, thanks to Sidney Bourgeois and a watercolor sketch.
Snapdragons, violas, ornamental kale, dianthus and pansies, courtesy of landscape firm Living Color, lead the way to a completely redone front porch and façade. Planters from New Orleans grace the front, while the planters in the back once belonged to Richard Kennedy’s mother.
Inside, antique pine flooring and oriental rugs are punctuated by gallery finds, each one telling its own story.
Take the pine floors from Heymann's Department Store, which Maurice Heymann opened in 1916 as a first-of-its-kind retail store in downtown Lafayette.
“When Heymann’s was torn down, we were able to get the antique pine flooring," Judy Kennedy said. "It meant something. But if I ever move, I can’t take it with me.”
Over the granite hearth in the living room hangs a black and white silver gelatin photograph by Craig Richards, a student of famed photographer Ansel Adams.
“When we travel, we love going to art galleries and hardware stores,” she said.
The first renovation came in the early 1980s.
“The house had the tiniest little kitchen and an electric stove; we like gas," said Judy Kennedy. "It was really nice to have a bigger kitchen.”
Today, the cabinets are white oak-stained cypress accompanied by a beautiful quartzite counters from a Brazil quarry. The breakfast table is salvaged wood from an old barn in Arkansas and the copper pots are from Richard Kennedy’s uncle. French faience further gives the kitchen a Provencal feel.
A Camargue cross with its anchor, heart and a cross of three tridents hangs over a doorway. The trident symbolizes faith, the anchor is hope and the heart love.
Below it hangs a pair of decidedly more secular items — George Rodrigue’s Mardi Gras Blue Dogs and Henry Casselli’s “Mule Driver.” Casselli used men in his Vietnam era platoon as subjects, and painted the official portrait of President Ronald Regan which hangs in National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum.
The most recent project? “There was a mirrored wall there,” Judy Kennedy said, gesturing toward the dining room. “I thought, 'This is my opportunity. We are knocking down that wall.' And at 2 o’clock in the morning, I woke up and thought, 'That would be a nice dining room.'”
And it is, with its Murano glass mirror, etched and painted coffee table, both contributions by interior decorator J.C. Chargois Jr., and “Fettered Slave,” artwork from the Malcolm Forbes estate sale in Tangier. The adjoining sitting room is Judy Kennedy’s favorite place. “I can be quiet here,” she said.
Perhaps not for long.
“Well, you know, I could have had French doors, I was thinking," she said. "And when I win Powerball, this wall’s going out another 10 feet.”