A craftsman style home in Midtown brings glamour that never goes out of style.
By Kaleigh Blessard | Photos by Doug Roth Photography
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel M. Wellborn III was built in 1911 by John Banks Yonge. Yonge was given the land by his mother as a gift for his marriage to Sarah Whittle Emmel of Macon. John Yonge’s mother, following her marriage to Edward Ellis Yonge, lived all her life in the antebellum home at 2200 Oak Avenue, now called the Yonge-Key-Tyler house.
The house was home to John and Sarah Yonge from 1911 until 1926. The Yonges had no children, and following the death of John, Sarah inherited the house and lived there until moving to Florida. Dr. and Mrs. William L. Cooke subsequently purchased the house. After the death of Mrs. Cook in 1967, her great-nephew Frank Kieffer Martin, who later became mayor of Columbus, bought the house. It was home to the Martin family until 1986. The Wellborns purchased the house in 2003 from Mr. and Mrs. Len Perkins and, after extensive renovations to both the house and grounds, moved into their completed masterpiece in 2005.
The Wellborns have a family connection to the house, as its builder, John Banks Yonge, was the brother-in-law of Sam’s grandfather, Harris Gardner. The home is elegant, but warm and inviting. It has been the site of numerous social, charitable, and political events, expansive enough for large crowds and intimate enough for family celebrations.
Jean Puckett was the home’s interior design. She had several pieces created for the public spaces, as well as artwork for the home. The flooring throughout the house is oak and heart pine, and the first and second floor hallways are hand-stained parquet pattern. The home is furnished with a mixture of comfortable pieces, commissioned and collected pieces, and family antiques. Several English and French pieces were purchased from That Added Touch.
The majority of the high-end kitchen appliances were purchased from Daniel Appliances. The kitchen is modeled after the English Smallbone concept, using period cabinets and lighting fixtures. White Cherokee Georgia marble is on the counters in the kitchen and adjacent butler’s pantry. The kitchen island was made by a local craftsman. The work surface is heart pine with a base designed for maximum storage and seating. The base has a custom wash which compliments the color palette of the kitchen. The copper hood above the stove was hand-crafted. The kitchen can be closed off with beautiful wooden pocket doors that have a semi-circular arched glass transom. This feature is not only lovely, but functional for entertaining.
The visionaries leading the team were contractor Larry Bussey and Reneau de Beauchamps, period designer. Their input is evident in the quality of construction and the amazing details of design throughout. A continuous thread runs through the house and brings every architectural element into a harmonious whole. Every facet was customized to retain the character of the period, while creating standards of current comfort. The one original crystal chandelier is in the dining room—it was taken apart and meticulously cleaned and restored. The majority of the lighting fixtures were acquired from antique dealers, internet searches, renaissance lighting, or from historically accurate reproductions.
After rearing their family in Midland for over 25 years, The Wellborns felt it was time to move closer to town. They worked with Jack Jenkins for about two years designing a smaller house that would reflect the best of Southern styles on the front with Italianate features on the back. As the time to begin the process grew closer, the lot theyhad purchased for the site did not meet our requirements. They began a search for new property, which resulted in our purchase on Oak Avenue with additions and renovation ideas submitted by Jenkins. The focus in the renovation was to completely update all systems of a 1912 house, while maintaining the integrity of a historically significant midtown home. This was painstakingly achieved with the involvement of numerous professionals who brought the project to completion over a period of three years.
The landscaping was done by Ben Page, a landscape architect from Nashville, along with Bob Best and Pete Page of Columbus. Gary Gullatte handled most of the plant installations, while Neal Womack was in charge of the lawn installation and landscaping the side yards. The home is equipped with a John Ford Sprinkler System and drip systems. Among the plants in the yard are 450 different varieties of fine Camellias, a large day lily collection, and many more indigenous plants, trees, and shrubs.
The porch that wraps around the front of the house is like an additional room with a dining area and a living area. The ceiling fan, recessed lights in the high wooden ceiling, and woven shades to deter sunlight when needed mean it is welcoming any time of the day. It harkens to a time when families gathered together for slow talks and watching the neighbors passing by.
The home features 5 bedrooms, which includes a master area on the first floor that can be closed off in its entirety, as well as a smaller master suite on the second floor. There are 5 and 1/2 bathrooms. One of the bathrooms has a tiled steam room with a barreled ceiling, preventing dripping condensation, and built in areas for reclining. There is rheostat lighting and a full shower inside the area. It rivals the spa rooms of well-known retreats and provides a respite from the busy world outside.
The back of the house has a brick-tiled logia that opens out from a spacious multi-purpose room accessed by tall glass French doors. These areas work in tandem to connect the interior and exterior spaces—perfect for entertaining. The open-air porch has Tuscan columns supporting a cedar arbor and is covered in confederate jasmine. This space is a nod to the Italianate back of the house originally conceived on paper.