Home: Net Gain
Ace gardening and a love for the game are on serve at this River Ridge home.
Architect Harry Becnel designed the Maynards’ River Ridge home to pay homage to historic Elmwood Plantation that once existed on River Road above New Orleans.
photographed by cHERYL GERBER
First, they built a tennis court. Why not? Both Olga and George Maynard have enjoyed a lifetime as tennis players. What is remarkable is that they are both 85 and still walk out their back door to hit the tennis court regularly.
Olga smiles as she discusses the courts and house they built in 1965 that hug the levee on a peaceful dead-end street in River Ridge. “It was really like living in the country when we moved here,” she says. “We even owned the rights to the batture and we loved the idea of having so much open space.”
The couple didn’t have any problem deciding what their new house should look like. They both admired historic Elmwood Plantation, located a few miles upriver from them, says George, a retired Delta Airlines pilot who flew for 36 years. “We took our ideas to architect Harry Becnel and he came up with exactly what we wanted.”
The Maynards’ stately home stands behind a huge live oak tree, and definitely pays homage to Elmwood Plantation – complete with an 85-foot-long front porch that features thick brick columns. It is surrounded by lush gardens that the couple keeps in pristine condition. “I have always been interested in gardening,” Olga says. “I think I inherited my love of gardening from my mother, who bragged that she didn’t have a maid – she had a gardener.” Olga has won numerous garden club awards and she has been an active member of Shady Oaks Garden Club for many years.
“Our landscape features several pocket gardens with fountains, sculptures, bromeliads and blooming flowers,” she says. “While the tennis court is still the focal point of our backyard, it’s the gardens that makes the outdoors so pleasant.” A handsome gazebo is featured between the house and the tennis courts. “It’s ideal for entertaining.”
A few years ago the couple commissioned artist Blake Kenworthy to paint a mural on the side of a barn that’s located at one end of the tennis court. “We thought it would be fun to show a steamboat floating on the Mississippi River,” George says. “We think its perfectly blends with the green levee behind it.”
When the Maynards moved to their home they had five young children between the ages of 6 and 10. “This was a wonderful home for our children and their friends,” Olga says. “Now our six grandchildren enjoy it.” George adds, “It’s been a pleasure to share our tennis courts with our friends over the years. We don’t miss many days of getting out on the court.”
Although it may seem that George should have everything to enjoy his retirement right in his backyard, the wanderlust of flying is still a part of his life. “Yes, I would have to admit I love to fly my two-passenger Piper Cub airplane weekly. I guess flying and tennis are just in my blood.”