Home for Christmas

There are many chapters to Christmas in this English Turn home.
Photographed by Cheryl Gerber
Holiday dressing for the foyer and stairway includes a nutcracker sentry guarding the library door with garland and red bows dressing the banister on the stairway and balcony that overlook the two-story living room.

Each Christmas season a statue of a pelican adorned with a big red bow greets you near the front door of the English Turn home of Nancy Calhoun. Look up and you’ll see massive Corinthian columns and the banisters on the broad balcony draped with holiday greenery attached by red bows. Even the unique widow’s walk surrounding the rooftop copula is decked with garland and bows. Enter with joy, because here’s a home where Christmas is celebrated to its fullest.

Built in the Greek Revival style of great plantation mansions, the unique home was completed 20 years ago by Nancy and her late husband Dr. Milburn Calhoun. Hugging the banks of a lazy lagoon with a vast pastoral view of the green space beyond, the home is a showplace that was designed by architect George D. Hopkins (The Hopkins Company Architects).

“A great deal of planning and thought went in to everything in our home from the selection of the lot to the exterior and interior design,” says Nancy, who’s still active in Pelican Publishing Company, one of the premiere mid-sized publishing operations in the country that was guided to its current success by her husband, who was also a practicing physician. “Christmas is the time of the year when I look forward to the tall tree going up in the living room and house being dressed in all its holiday glory,” Nancy says. “We love to share Christmas with family and friends, and we planned our home to make sure we had plenty of room to enjoy holiday entertaining. “It is a happy time when the Christmas ritual of decorating the tree with ornaments of special sentimental importance occurs.”

 The clear view of the nearby lagoon and green space beyond is evident through the French doors that open onto the rear veranda.

The top of the tree still has the same lighted star that once belonged to her mother, and she cherishes the original box that has a pricetag of 25-cents attached to the top.
Nancy’s four granddaughters – Susan, Leslie, Sophia and Heather Calhoun – have contributed meaningful ornaments to the tree, as has Sharon, her daughter-in-law, and David, her son, who’s a professor of philosophy at Gonzaga University.

Kathleen Nettleton, Nancy’s daughter (and president of Pelican Publishing Company) and Carl, Kathleen’s husband, have also added their share of ornaments over the years.

Designed by architect George D. Hopkins Jr., the Greek Revival-style home in English Turn features Corinthian columns and a cupola surrounded by a widow’s walk.

“I just smile when Lori Ryan Solano (of Fancy Flowers), who has done the decorating of the house for Christmas for years, suggests a theme for our tree,” Nancy says. “’No, Lori, we never do themes – we fondly do memories for our tree.”

The festive holiday home especially comes to life when family and friends gather after the Christmas Eve service at church to open their presents under the tree. Happy voices join in the singing traditional Christmas carols and a grand meal completes the day. “On Christmas morning we explore the contents of our individual stockings that hang from the circular stairway. There is always a special excitement to see what each stocking holds,” Nancy says. “Every corner of the living room is filled with happy voices and laughter, and while the dining room may be center stage for meals, even Milburn’s large desk in the library does double duty as a dining table, along with the breakfast room table, and even card tables are sometimes called in to service.”

 The winding staircase in the library was inspired by the one in the movie My Fair Lady.

Christmas highlights the uniqueness of the house with the library, Milburn’s favorite space and the piece de resistance of the design, dressed with garland and red bows. The two-story space just inside the front door is complete with the winding staircase that was fashioned after the one in the movie My Fair Lady, and a 1780 15-foot wide, mahogany breakfront/bookcase that was purchased long before the home was built and carefully stored just waiting for its perfect home. The floor-to-ceiling bookcases on both levels that house the couple’s library of thousands of books get a special Christmas face with garland and red bows.

The dining room table is covered in a festive green tablecloth in keeping with the holiday season

“There is much I enjoy about our home, but my favorite feature is the open floor plan that provides an unobstructed view from the front door, past the winding staircase,” Nancy says. “The view embraces the main living space with its 20-foot high ceiling and two levels of arched windows that overlook the veranda and the beautiful view of the lagoon and green space beyond.” She continues, “This is a home that was meant to be shared with family and friends. It seems to especially welcome and embrace you at Christmastime. To me just stepping inside the home says ‘Welcome – come inside and enjoy Christmas.’”

Nancy Calhoun under the ceiling of the cupola in her English Turn home that was fashioned from cypress cut from trees that had to be cleared to build the house.


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