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Restoring History with Beauty

David Fenley opens his home and shares picturesque garden and pool restoration

By Shirelle Williams
Photos by Kathryn Harrington 

The saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is safe to say that Louisville real estate investor, David Fenley, believes the same. As a high school student, Fenley would drive through Louisville’s aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods, gaining inspiration for what his own home might look like someday. One particular home he was always fond of and described as, “The dream home of all dream homes,” is now his; a white Georgian colonial style house that sits on a hill in Louisville’s East End. Years later and now the owner of this charming Southern home, Fenley is dedicated to preserving and restoring its original beauty. 

Built in 1927 and located on 13 acres of land, he admires the deeply rooted characteristics of the home and has maintained these qualities. “It even has the original boiler that puts out steam heat,” says Fenley. The real estate mogul shares that purchasing and restoring historic homes is a hobby for him and that this home is his third. He believes investing in older homes comes with an obligation, “It’s being a good steward of these properties and that’s what I love to do. I feel a responsibility to do it.”

Flowing from the living room’s “Gatsby” nostalgia, sophisticated décor and through its magnificent doors, is perhaps the most breathtaking feature of this home: the garden and pool area. There is a formal English garden with a water fountain standing from decades before, and peonies and tulips that still sprout from their 100-year-old roots. 

However, Fenley expresses that restoring these delicate features of his garden and land is not easy. Most of its original trees have a rigid restoration program needed to bring them back to life. He has planted nearly 350 trees since beginning the project in 2015, a project he foresees will continue for many years to come. His curated “green wall” around the home consists of pine, Nellie Stevens Hollies and Norway spruces. “I love trees. There is a beech tree here that is 175 years old!” says Fenley. One landscaping touch he implements is memorial trees, planted for past loved ones and friends. “I plant them with a plaque next to it.” To him it is a passion to do the work that he hopes owners can enjoy in the next 100 years. 

One feature impossible to miss is the astonishing pool house. It is crafted with a brick slate roof and equipped with a full kitchen, hot tub, sauna and fireplace. You can easily feel the mood of vacation in this backyard thanks to these luxurious features. “It’s perfect for small family gatherings,” Fenley says. His next plan for his grand outdoor space — once we are all able to congregate again — is to host a murder mystery party. He plans for it to be fully 1920s themed giving a nod to the history of the home. We hope we’ll get the invite! V