VILLA HILLS, Ky. -- After years of working hard at their careers and their marriage, Dave and Darlene Barnes were able to build their dream home in Northern Kentucky.
And now they’re opening its doors for a good cause.
Tours at “Squires End” estate, as it has become known, are available this weekend to benefit the Children's Home of Northern Kentucky .
“Dave and Darlene know the importance of our work her at CHNK,” said Rick Wurth, the organization’s chief executive officer. "By literally opening the doors to their home, they build bridges to better futures for the hundreds who will come to CHNK for care."
The 16,000-square-foot mansion in Villa Hills boasts 23 rooms, six and a half bathrooms, a swimming pool and an indoor shooting range.
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The Squire Oaks Drive home features a media room, a hibachi grill and a self-playing piano. It took 45 shades of paint and nearly 25 miles of trim work to complete the two-year construction project.
Visitors can explore three floors of rooms, each with its own theme and unique worldly furnishings.
Some rooms on the tour include an Old Hollywood-themed master bedroom, an art deco game-room complete with original 1920s furniture from London’s Savoy Hotel and a conservatory where Darlene Barnes tend to an array of orchids.
They’ll even get a glimpse at a gallery full of Theodore Roosevelt portraits and artifacts collected by Dave Barnes over the years.
"We have a house that reflected many different interests and many different styles. So this is a result of that – it’s eclectic," Dave Barnes said.
Two of the primary people behind the design of the home are also partially responsible for coming up with the fundraiser.
“Darlene overheard a phone call I made to Rick Wurth one day while I was shopping with her and Dave,” said Henry Vittetoe, the home’s interior designer. “She asked for more information about CHNK and the type of work it does… and from that conversation John Toebben (architect/contractor) and I came up with the idea for an open house.”
Because of the house's unique shape, the rumors about who was building the home ran the gambit -- a professional athlete, a member of the Clooney family, a CEO for one of Greater Cincinnati's numerous Fortune 500 companies.
"The general consensus in the neighborhood was that there was a helipad and that I was a former CIA agent and I was continuing to do covert work," Dave Barnes joked.
In reality, he worked behind the scenes as broadcasting engineer.
Even if the rumors about the home and its owners are often farfetched, the Barnes family says they appreciate the interest. They also hope the curiosity about what's behind their palatial front doors will raise money for a cause that's near and dear to their heart: helping children.
"We're very impressed with the kind of work (CHNK does) and the effort they put into things and how much they give of themselves, so that seemed like the right cause for us to support,” Dave Barnes said.
In order to tour the home, attendees must give a minimum donation of $20, but there's not a limit on how much a person can give. All of the proceeds will benefit the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky (CHNK).
Founded in 1892, CHNK operates two campuses – one in Burlington and another in Covington -- to “better lives for abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families."
"We work both in community with community-based programming for at-risk kids in grades six through 12 in our champions program, for example. But we also have a residential division and that's for kids who are in out of home care placed in state's custody," Wurth said.
Last year, the Home impacted more than 400 children and families in 33 counties across the state. Through the open house, Wurth said Dan and Darlene Barnes are going to help his organization grow those numbers this year.
"Their new home is a beautiful addition to our Northern Kentucky community, but their devotion to our kids is even more beautiful," Wurth said. “Their hope is our hope; namely, that every child will be safe, healthy and loved."
Open house times are Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
On-street parking is available both days of the open house. There will be additional parking Sunday at the Villa Madonna ball field on Amsterdam Road.