When Mary Terrell Joseph and her husband, Cheney Joseph, put down roots, they went so deep that they never moved.
While most of their friends were upgrading to bigger and newer homes, the Josephs stayed where they started, in the two-bedroom, two bathroom house they bought in University Hills for $28,500.
They were both attending LSU's Paul M. Hebert Law Center when they married in December 1967. In the spring, they purchased the tiny house designed by Raymond Post Sr. and built in 1932.
Cheney Joseph died in December 2015, but Joseph still lives where the young couple started almost 50 years ago.
"Whenever I would say something about moving, Cheney would say no, so we ended up adding on about five times," Joseph said.
The traditional-style, wood frame home originally belonged to the reclusive Peter Carmichael, a philosophy professor at LSU. It was practically hidden from the street by shrubbery including several varieties of camellia bushes. The windows were blocked with blinds, cafe curtains and draperies.
"The neighbors all came by to see the house as we were moving in," Joseph said. "Nobody had ever been inside."
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The Josephs moved in with an assortment of hand-me-down furniture.
"After our first year in the house, we glassed in the screen porch and put in a 'very attractive' orange shag rug and painted the middle bedroom a Pepto-Bismol pink," she recalled with a laugh. "After all, it was the ’70s."
When the Josephs' first son, Terrell, now an orthopedist in Colorado, was born, they put him in a small office that later became Cheney Joseph's closet. By 1972, when their second son, Allen, was born, the Josephs were completely out of room, so they expanded their little galley kitchen and added a playroom, master bedroom and bath. That was followed by the addition of a circular driveway and front and back porches.
In the early 1990s, they made the master bedroom a child's room and added their second master bedroom, master bath, dressing room, closet and a room with shelves for "souvenirs from trips and things we never threw away," Joseph said. "A few years ago, I rearranged the items by continents and countries."
The last addition was a pool and landscaped patio area.
"Cheney said we didn't need a pool, but when a huge water oak came down in the backyard, I did it anyway," she said.
The home is a maze of rooms filled with with what Joseph calls "a bunch of hand-me-downs from Cheney's family in Georgia and White Castle and my family in Shreveport and Dallas."
What was originally the "second bedroom" is what Joseph lovingly calls the "art and ancestral room," with old family guns from Georgia and wonderful family photos, including one of Cheney Joseph's great-grandparents and their three sons.
"His great-grandfather had died before the picture was done, so they just dubbed him in," she said with a laugh.
Throughout the home is a fantastic collection of art, almost all by local artists including many pieces by Cheney Joseph's mother, the late Henrietta Joseph Yoder.
"When I met Cheney's mother and her husband, Joe Yoder, I had never thought of an artist as a person," Joseph said. "Most of their friends were artists. As I got to know their friends, I wanted a piece from each of them."
One of her first treasures was a piece by Caroline Durieux.
"My grandmother, Mamie (Querbes), sent me $100 for my birthday," Joseph said. "When Mamie came to visit, I showed her the very contemporary piece I had bought with her gift. She said, 'You paid $100 for that!' ”
Joseph's collection now includes works by many artists, among them David Horton, Harvey Harris, Malaika Favorite, Randell Henry, Rhea Gary, Paul Dufour, Sam Courso, Frank Hayden, Al Lavergne, Frankie Gould and James Burke. There are several portraits painted by Henrietta Joseph Yoder of Terrell and Allen Joseph and several fine stained glass pieces by Joe Yoder, including a large piece in the dining room. Included in the collection are several paintings by Allen Joseph, a budding artist in his own right.
In almost every room are decorative pillows made from family carpets.
"Most are from Asian or Native American rugs from my great-grandparents and Cheney's great-grandparents," she said. "I had the worn rugs made into pillows by Sarko (of Sarko Oriental Rugs) and have given some pillows to other family members."
Even though Cheney Joseph, a beloved LSU law professor, is gone, his presence is evident throughout the home in the things the couple collected together and things passed down from his family. When he received a terminal diagnosis in fall 2015, friends and former students came from all over the state to say farewell.
Cheney Joseph was an avid runner who had a massive collection of T-shirts with logos from all sorts of sporting events and destinations. Each guest was asked to pick a shirt as a memento of a friendship. Family friend Liz Murrell took some of the most colorful and meaningful T-shirts and made them into three of the dearest treasures in the home — quilts for Mary, Terrell and Allen Joseph.