Courier Journal Home of the Week
By: Lennie Omalza Special to Courier Journal
Photos by: Sam Upshaw
April 22, 2021
This 105-year-old colonial boasts both historic tearoom and “I love Lucy” retro vibes.
Jeff and Carrie Ketterman’s 105-year-old-colonial home in Corydon isn’t historic simply because it was built in 1916. The house has significant ties to the state of Indiana and is a property Jeff was familiar with years before the couple acquired the home.
Home with history...
“It’s a house that I’ve always admired,” Jeff said. “I grew up in Corydon, so I was aware of some of the history.”
The property the house sits in, he explained, is where the Indiana state constitution was written.
“All the legislators came here to write the Constitution in June of 1816,” he said. “It got so hot and there were so many legislators here, they decided to walk down to the elm tree, which is just down the way...They walked there and signed the Constitution underneath the tree. So, this was actually the courthouse property originally. And, of course, Indiana named Corydon as its first state Capitol.”
The courthouse was eventually moved to the center of town, and a new building - the Capitol building - was built as well.
“The significance of the property is pretty cool because I’m related to the gentleman that actually built the first state Capitol, which was Dennis Pennington,” Jeff said. “He’s a distant relative of mine through my grandmother. So, it’s kind of like the property came full circle.
Time for tea...
The Ketterman’s purchased the home in 2013 after Jeff convinced Carrie to leave Louisville and make the move to Corydon.
“I grew up in St. Matthew’s, five minutes from everything. So, talking me into this side of the river was kind of a hard sell,” Carrie said, laughing. “But it worked out because (with) the other houses that we’ve looked at, there’s no way we would have been able to open the tea room and operate the way we do.”
The “tea room” technically encompasses the better part of the first floor. It’s where Carrie and Jeff host themed tea parties and other events. The idea wasn’t born until after they had moved in but once their furniture and accessories were placed in the home, it was clear that it all lent to an old-timey, tea party aesthetic.
“I always collected teacups and tea accessories, and I would have my girlfriends come over and I would throw us vintage tea parties just for fun,” Carrie said. “Then we started to piece it together and it actually clicked (during) the (Corydon) bicentennial (celebration). We noticed a lot more foot traffic going by the house, lots more tour buses going down to the elm (tree), and concerts on the square. And we were like, well, the house is zoned ‘commercial,’ and I’ve been collecting all this stuff - why don’t we try our hand at a tea room?”
The previous homeowner worked to keep the house as historically accurate as possible, so the interior works well with both the tea party themes as well as the Kettermans’ style.
“The woman that owned it before us did a lot of great things to kind of keep it historically accurate,” Carrie said. “Like, the stripes in the foyer were correct for the period of the time; the chandelier (and) the woodwork (are) original. We wanted to kind of enhance that? And we’re both vintage enthusiasts at heart and love antiques.
Some of these pieces were my grandmothers antiques that she purchased before her wedding,” she added. “It’s been a lot of fun to decorate because that’s very much our aesthetic, this kind of vintage lifestyle.”
Love for Lucy...
Jeff and Carrie’s vintage lifestyle extends well beyond tea parties. The space off the living room is what Carrie calls her “Lucy room.” It’s filled with dolls, pictures, books, figurines, and other memorabilia dedicated to one of Hollywood’s greatest icons.
“I’m a huge Lucille Ball fan - huge,” Carrie said. “I used to watch ‘I Love Lucy’ all the time when I’d go to my grandmother’s house; I just grew up watching it. I love her. I love that she was a redhead, a comedian, (and) a really smart businesswoman...And being theatrically minded, we were like, ‘why don’t we do a Lucy and Desi act?’
“I always get us into crazy schemes - he plays music, I sing - and I’m always trying to get into the show. So, we started to come up with a little routine,” she said. “We love the vaudeville style, and history, and (that) kind of entertainment.”
She and Jeff take their camper - which is decked out like a 1950s Palm Springs bungalow - to festivals and campground around the country, performing their Lucy and Desi act.
“It’s about a 45-minute set,” Carrie said. “We also do an ‘I Love Lucy’ tea - we are a modern-day Lucy and Desi!”
Thankfully, their love for the days of yesteryear fits perfectly with their historical home.
“You know,” Jeff said’ “(the previous owner) expanded the kitchen (and) had all the painting done’ and it was to emulate the style of the house in 1916 - which is when the house was built.”
Carrie added, “When we moved in, we (didn’t have to) paint or tear anything down. It was just perfect and really meant to be.”
Nuts & bolts...
Owners: Jeff and Carrie Ketterman. Jeff is the general manager of Kasgro Rail Car Management, and Carrie is an artist and entertainer.
Home: This is a 3-bed, 2-and-a-half bath, 3,850 -square-foot, colonial home that was built in 1916 Downton Corydon, Indiana.
Distinctive elements: Historic home; original hardwood floors; original foyer and hall lighting fixtures; completely remodeled kitchen, with high-end custom cabinetry; remodeled bathrooms and laundry room; master bedroom with custom walk-in closet and custom cabinetry; third floor home theatre.
Applause! Applause! Linda Toupin for foresight and work to maintain the integrity of this historic property.