No better setting can be found in Louisville for a true spirit filled evening than that of the Conrad-Caldwell Mansion on St. James Court in the Belgravia Historic District. The 6th Annual Spirit Ball brings together the descendants of Theophile Conrad and William E. Caldwell together with the Louisville community to celebrate the history of Victorian Louisville, the most haunted neighborhood in the city. The Spirit Ball provides guests an opportunity to celebrate the Halloween holiday in true Victorian style complete with lavish costumes and fantastic fare while benefiting the Conrad-Caldwell House and its continued upkeep and operation. Many gentlemen wore tuxedos and top hats appropriate for the times as the ladies donned gowns and beautiful period hairstyles. The families of Conrad and Caldwell host their family reunion every year and for the past several years chose to celebrate their heritage with guests.
A brief history of the home at the corner of St. James Court and Magnolia Street is riddled with the history of Louisville’s elite residents. The mansion, completed in 1893 by famed architect Arthur Loomis, was the home to Louisville business man Theophile Conrad and wife Mary until his death in 1905. At this time another Louisville business man, William Caldwell bought the property bordered at the north by Central Park. Mr. Caldwell lived in “Louisville’s Castle” for 35 years at which time the Louisville Presbyterian Church acquired the home. In 1972 the home was placed on the Register of National Historic Places and currently operates as a museum by the St. James Court Historic Foundation. The home features a Bedford limestone exterior complete with sculptured animals including gargoyles and towers in pyramid, hexagon, and coned shapes. The design of the home meant to welcome guests in a fitting Victorian era manner giving way to raised and carved arches, high ceilings, stained glass windows, reception hall with a very large staircase, and marbled fireplaces. At the time of completion, the home’s attributes included indoor plumbing and electric lighting as well as seven types of hardwood adding to the stunning presence on St. James Court.
The welcoming hall of the home allowed guests a fantastic backdrop to exchange pleasantries while sipping champagne. The Spirit Ball provided make-up artists, fortune tellers, and a photographer to compliment the costumed affair. The ornate spirit of the guests added to that of the home as guests traveled through the vast space inside, noting the Edwardian Age pieces acquired for restoration. The soiree invited guests to tour the home as well as dine with decadent and creative cuisine in candle light. Musical temptations brought many couple to their feet for a fun filled evening in 19th century Louisville. The site of elaborately dressed women in the arms of their gentlemanly escorts provided a glimpse into the beauty and grandeur of life in the Victorian Age in Louisville.
The mansion is open to the public for tours and currently serves as the location for Louisville’s World Fair-The Great Southern Exposition which runs through January 15, 2012. The Christmas Decorating Party is set for November 20th from 3-6 pm. Information regarding the Conrad-Caldwell Mansion and special events is available at http://conradcaldwell.org. The home is a sight to see for those residing in Louisville and a great treat for visitors.
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