Home Tour: House of Newport photographer is a picture of Victorian Age grandeur and fine living

Home shows off stained glass, decorative carving

NEWPORT, Ky. -- Photographer J. Peter Weckman would be proud to see that the stately home he built in Newport’s historic district is as photogenic today as it was 125 years ago. 

It’s ironic that the oldest image of the Queen Anne Victorian its owners could find was a hand-colored postcard from 1901, not an original by Weckman, who had a portrait studio on Fifth Street in Cincinnati when the house went up in 1890. 

The postcard – viewable in the collection posted on the East Row Historic Foundation’s website – shows that the towering house at the corner of Fourth Street and Park Avenue was red brick with a green awning and green trim. By 2007 when Matt and Jennifer Daniels bought the house, the brick had been painted gray and was chipping and peeling. 

They decided to paint it in 2009, Matt said, but never considered reviving the original color scheme. 

“There’s no way to do it without sandblasting the brick, and that’s just not feasible,” Matt said.

 Matt, who credits his wife with making most of the important design decisions during the remodeling they did inside, said he “was heavily involved” in sprucing up the exterior. And if you look closely at the details in the pillared porches, the three-story turret and terra cotta accent squares, you can see why he sought professional help.

 

 

Matt contracted with a color consultant  to create a historically accurate palette for the Weckman House. After sharing “about 150 photos,” they settled on a scheme of eight colors. Among them were smoky topaz as the base, chocolate brown for the lintels and horizontal lines and light blue for the porch ceilings. 

Obviously proud of the outcome, Matt hopes the house’s dramatic curb appeal will help him and Jennifer sell the Weckman House. They listed it at $775,000 in early April. 

'I Wanted This'

The Weckman House certainly reflects the wealth of its original resident. Internet research revealed that Weckman, who was born around 1850, was, at one time or another, vice president of an insurance company, president of two banks and treasurer of the city school board. Most impressively, Weckman in 1897 earned $2,000 as city treasurer (about $52,000 in 2014 dollars), $200 more than the mayor of Newport. 

It’s likely the finest carpenters and craftsmen built the Weckman House, yet at one time its crown jewel, the staircase in the foyer, was completely gutted and its landing’s stained glass window was removed. 

Matt said that like other changes made over the years, it’s not known exactly when and by whom the staircase was rebuilt. It could have occurred when the house was converted to house five families, Matt said, possibly in the 1990s. 

Whoever crafted the new staircase and foyer fireplace’s mirrored mantel created show stoppers, as did the craftsmen who redid the inlaid hardwood floors in the foyer. 

“We walked in, and I said I wanted this,” Matt said. 

Architectural Details Throughout

All Matt and Jennifer did to the foyer and adjacent front parlor was to replace each room’s inexpensive chandeliers with matching ones they bought at Williams-Sonoma Home when it was in Kenwood Towne Center. 

To the left of the foyer is the front parlor, whose two sets of six-foot-wide pocket doors can close it off from the foyer and middle parlor. The room’s key architectural feature is its turreted corner, a rounded, three-window pocket of space.

 On the second floor, the turret is in the master bedroom and is faceted with five windows. This unique detail, coupled with contrasting terra cotta above the windows, give the Weckman House turret a unique look from the street, Matt pointed out. 

The middle parlor features the same plaster crown molding that’s in the foyer and front parlor. But its selling point is a three-paneled window whose glass the Danielses replaced. The design and craftsmanship by Kaleidoscope Stained Glass of Covington and use of vintage glass make it a strong match for the Weckman House. 

“To put back a version of what used to be makes me so very proud,” Jennifer said. 

The middle parlor also has a large, white plaster ceiling medallion done in a flower and fruit motif. A smaller medallion in the dining room features birds flying in different directions. 

High-end Modern Kitchen

The jewel of the Weckman House’s interior is something the old photographer couldn’t have imagined. A 2009 remodel/addition by the Danielses created a thoroughly modern, custom kitchen at the back of the house that’s big enough at 22-feet by 26-feet to be a party room. 

Matt and Jennifer  bumped out the back of the house, took out a wall to expose a stairwell and closed in a service door. They based their design on a two-island layout, Cararra marble countertops and stainless steel Viking appliances. 

One island has a large stainless steel sink with a restaurant-quality faucet Jennifer bought online. Under a marble countertop are custom cabinets and a dishwasher. 

The other island – often the center of social activity, Matt said – is a 3-by-10-foot table with a drawer crafted by woodworker Pascal Lecoq. Three polished steel pendant lights from Restoration Hardware hang over the island and supplement recessed lights in the ceiling. 

Hard to miss is a long bank of cabinets and open shelves over the six-burner cook top and refrigerator at the back of the kitchen that reach to the 11-foot ceiling. To their right and down a hallway is a large powder room with on old-fashioned steel-legged porcelain sink. 

Unique to the layout is the view from the sink. Look up and there’s a flat-screen television on the wall. Below it is a picturesque black and white staircase with antique newel posts Matt bought from an online salvage business in Massachusetts. 

Look closely and you’ll see the posts don’t match, Matt said, “but no one will ever notice.” The spindles, turned by woodworker Lecoq, are painted white and pop out against the black-painted stairs behind them. 

Charm Continues Upstairs

Upstairs on the second floor are three bedrooms, all of which retain their original wood trimmed, sash windows. Two bedrooms, including the master, have fireplaces with wooden mantels. 

The master bedroom suite, Matt said, was remodeled by a previous owner. The bathroom has a tiled stall shower, jetted corner bath tub and separate vanities topped with granite. 

The suite’s unique feature is a carpeted walk-in closet/dressing area that’s big enough to be a bedroom, which likely it was at one point. Two curve-topped windows look out over the front porch to Fourth Street.

As he showed off the room’s hanging shelves and drawers, Matt said: “This is the reason we bought the house. My wife really wanted this.” 

Also on the second floor is a second full-bathroom, a 14-foot-by-7-foot laundry room with two sinks and a screened sleeping porch Matt and Jennifer had built above the kitchen addition. The porch became Jennifer’s favorite place in the house. 

“It was like living in the trees with partial city views and the feel of a Southern porch, but with privacy,” said Jennifer, who is a financial adviser. 

At the top of the stairs is a third-floor window that provides a smidgeon of a view of the Cincinnati skyline. It also provides Matt the opportunity to show off the house’s copper box gutters.

“We tried to strip them, but there were eight coats on the box gutters, so they had to be replaced everywhere,” Matt said. 

There are four large rooms on the third floor that have slanted ceilings and pocket windows located in the house’s gables. There’s also a full bathroom and a kitchen that Matt used as his office (he’s writing an historical novel). When Weckman lived in the house, this top floor likely was where his house staff lived. 

“I think you could use it for an au pair,” Matt said. 

Leaving the Weckman House has stirred up mixed emotions for the Danielses. 

“It sounds corny, but when you have lived in a home like this home for seven years, it never really leaves you, and you never really leave it,” Jennifer said. “Our Newport house will always hold a special place in our hearts and our family history. It is all very bittersweet.” 

This is part of the series, called Home Tour, where WCPO contributor Brent Coleman opens the front door to historic, unique, luxurious or just darned interesting homes in the Tri-State. Join him on the tour every Friday.‚Äč 

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