ST. FRANCISVILLE — Magruder and Liz Hazlip wanted to create a comfortable family home, not a "museum," when they purchased the historic Brasseaux House here in 2017.
At the time, the couple and their three children were living in a much smaller house one street over, but the added space and elegance of a local treasure were too much of a temptation to pass up.
"Everything we already had fit perfectly," Liz Hazlip said. "All of our stuff moved right over."
Except for some maintenance work, the house was in excellent condition. It had been completely redone by the previous owners, Robert and Lisa Fisher, who purchased it after Hurricane Katrina.
"They lived here for a handful of years and then moved back to their home in New Orleans," Liz Hazlip said.
One of five private homes on this year's Audubon Pilgrimage, the Brasseaux House is built in traditional turn-of-the-century Carpenter Gothic style, a uniquely American form known for wooden structures with hand-carved detailing. The emphasis is more on charm and improvisation than strict architectural plans.
Situated on a large lot with the front yard framed by a white picket fence, the home has a painted wood exterior, working shutters and elaborate gingerbread trim.
It was built by Albert Sydney Brasseaux, a prominent St. Francisville native born in 1866, one year after the end of the Civil War. His father, a member of the Confederate Army, was wounded in both legs in the Battle of Missionary Ridge, where he was taken prisoner for the remainder of the war.
Named for his father's commanding officer in the war, Brasseaux worked as a clerk at M. & E. Wolf, the largest business in West Feliciana Parish, and served on the Police Jury. He and his wife, Nonie Briant Brasseaux, built the house in 1895.
The interior is designed around a wide center hall with two rooms on each side and a larger room across the back. As part of their renovation, the previous owners built out the attic space to create two bedrooms and a sitting area, now used by the Hazlip children.
The Hazlips call the front room on the left the living room and the one on the right "the other living room," Liz Hazlip said with a laugh. "It's really my living room or the piano room."
The two living rooms are decorated with antique wood furnishings along with comfortable, more modern seating including a sofa on the side wall of each room. Chairs upholstered in contrasting fabrics bring accent color to the rooms.
Magruder Hazlip has an extensive collection of duck decoys acquired over many years. One of the few changes the Hazlips made to the house was to put shelves on one side of the fireplace in each of the living rooms, where the decoys are displayed from floor to ceiling.
The master bedroom and a guest bedroom are also off the central hall, which leads to the dining room at the back of the house. The Fishers added the staircase in the dining room to provide access to the bedrooms they added upstairs.
The Fishers also raised the ceiling in the dining room, leaving the beams exposed. The room is centered with an antique table and chairs from Magruder Hazlip's grandparents and a chandelier left by the Fishers, who also screened in a deck area behind the dining room to create a large enclosed porch overlooking the spacious backyard.
Three skylights pour light on to the screened porch, which is decorated with green wicker furniture. At one end is an antique bar counter from a building in Livonia.
"We're big estate salers," Liz Hazlip said. "We've done some antique auctions, too."
Although the Fishers installed new appliances in the kitchen, Liz Hazlip believes the cabinets, beadboard walls and some of the counters are original to the home, which is filled with maps, photos and artwork with a Mississippi River theme, reflecting Magruder Hazlip's hometown of Waterproof in Tensas, a river parish.
48th annual Audubon Pilgrimage
WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, March 15-17. The five private homes are open regular tour hours on Friday and Saturday, but only open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
WHERE: In and around St. Francisville
INFORMATION: (225) 635-6330, westfelicianahistory.org
TICKETS: At the office behind the Historical Society Museum, 11757 Ferdinand St., or online at westfelicianahistory.org. $40 for the daytime tours, good for all three days; $25 for the Friday night events, which include hymn singing in the United Methodist Church, a wine and cheese reception in the newly renovated St. Francisville Inn, period costumes, Royal Street by candlelight, a Charles Reinike art exhibit at Market Hall and a graveyard tour at Grace Church; and $60 for the 7 p.m. Saturday "Light Up the Night," an evening of food, drinks, live music and dancing in the Historic District.
- Sunnyside, built in 1838 in Pointe Coupee Parish and disassembled and moved across the Mississippi River to its present location in 1997
- Laurel Hill Plantation, purchased in the 1830s by the founder of the early standard-gauge West Feliciana Railroad that hauled cotton through the plantation country
- Brasseaux House, a charming cottage, complete with Victorian gallery trim and a picket fence, built in 1895
- Puente Largo, a Creole cottage built in the 1850s in Tangipahoa Parish and moved to West Feliciana Parish in 1997
- Coffin House, a tiny in-town house used for decades for utilitarian purposes that's now a weekend cottage
- Rosedown, the State Historic Site, built in 1834 by Daniel Turnbull and his wife, Martha Barrow, who created and documented 27 acres of formal gardens surrounding the stately home
- Afton Villa Gardens, an avenue of live oaks planted with azaleas and parterres and terraced vistas surrounding the romantic ruins of the Gothic Revival mansion that burned in 1963
OTHER: Visitors also can tour several churches, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the United Methodist Church, Grace Episcopal Church, tiny St. John's Episcopal Church and historic St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Volunteers will demonstrate homestead skills at Rural Homestead, and children will perform traditional dances in authentic costume on Royal Street.