Living with ghosts, even friendly ones, could prove daunting, but Jon and Isabelle Feerick embrace this aspect of their historic home in Grand Coteau with humorous bravado.
“We were forewarned by the townspeople about the home being haunted by former residents John Oge and cousins Ellen and Alice Dufy,” Isabelle says. “But we found them rather harmless, although I discovered they have a love of music, so I play music for them.”
Situated on 6 acres and set back from St. Charles Street, the Feericks’ home was a working plantation dating back to the 1830s. For this couple, it functions as a treasured escape from the city, although more often than not Jon and Isabelle’s open-door policy draws family and friends.
“I wanted country life and room for my dogs,” Jon says. His Labrador retriever, Gumbo, and George, a Turkish shepherd, also enjoy the casual lifestyle of their owners as they are allowed to roam freely throughout home and property.
Originally, the dwelling consisted of five rooms encircling a 16-foot-by-16-foot loggia where the stairway to the attic could be found. Previous owners enclosed this central chamber and added a spacious kitchen directly behind it. Today the attic/second level houses two bedrooms, each with a bath, and offices for both Jon and Isabelle.
Despite the changes made through the years, the integrity of the home has been preserved. The pine ceilings and floors remain intact, as do three fireplaces that are original to the home.
Covering the width of the front is a gallery that is original to the home, and a more recent partially screened porch wraps around the exterior of the home. From the porch, you can see the 115-year-old cypress barn, behind which a 1.5-acre pond stocked with brim, bass and carp has taken the place of slave cabins.
Although their home proved conducive to their way of life, Jon and Isabelle felt the master bedroom and bathroom were too small and the closet space was inadequate for their needs.
Enlisting the help of Mike Landry of Mike Landry Design LLC in Lafayette, the Feericks built an additional bedroom and bath, both of generous proportions, that are architecturally in balance with the existing structure. The prior bedroom now acts as an entry, with an enclosed portion now serving as a walk-in closet.
“Our new bedroom and bath blend well with the original house,” says Isabelle. “People don’t realize that they were added on.”
The Feericks also had the third original fireplace, which was formerly situated in the old room, dismantled and rebuilt during the renovation. French doors incorporated in the back wall open out for easy access to a porch.
“I wanted it to be simple and airy with a tropical feel – almost monastic – becoming for Jon and me a peaceful, restful retreat,” Isabelle says.
Even the Belgian linens on the bed reflect the desired mood. They are canopied by a vaulted ceiling, which overlooks a bed designed by Isabelle that is constructed of reclaimed Douglas fir acquired in Los Angeles.
Jon’s contributions to the home take the form of a chronicle of historical daily events – he acquired the works of primitive artist Alvin Batiste of Donaldsonville. Visible on most of the downstairs walls are scenes that could be titled Plantation Life, Washing Day, The Hunt, The Fight and Feeding a Passing Civil War Soldier. These colorful pictures reflect not only a period gone by but also the lively household that is present today.
Often the extensive vegetable garden provides fresh ways for Jon to showcase his skills in the kitchen. With Isabelle there to serve as a cheerful hostess, guests of the Feerick home know Southern hospitality has withstood the test of time.