Many people will have the opportunity to view how Neal has incorporated her love of toile in her home at 323 E. Lexington St. during Saturday's 12th annual Historic Homes Tour in Harrodsburg. The Neals will be more relaxed for this tour than when they participated in 1994.
"We were hanging wallpaper the night before," Beth Neal recalls.
They were still in the remodeling stages after moving into their home in 1992. Known as the Bohon House, the Victorian style home was built in the 1890s. It was owned by George Bohon, owner of Bohon's Buggy Factory, and stayed in that family until 1942. Attractive exterior features are the ornate "tear drops" hanging from the underside of the gable.
Inside, another striking architectural feature is the carved newel post. George Neal thinks it is from the East Lake period, which is known for a lot of carving.
"They started doing a lot of it when they could use jigsaws to do the cutting," George Neal says.
The Neals love antiques and have furnished the house with a variety of items that appeal to them.
"We gravitated to antiques and then got an old house to put them in," says George Neal, who is president of the Harrodsburg Historical Society.
They also have a booth at The Antique Mall on U.S. 127, north of Harrodsburg.
George Neal searches for glass decanters and has some that date to before the Civil War. Beth Neal prefers dough bowls, crocks and items that have a country flavor.
To the left of the entry hall, the Neals furnished their living room with a rosy pink suite that came from George Neal's grandmother. She bought it in 1938.
American Empire couches, which date to the 1840s and 1850s, covered in blue fabric with gold stars, are located in the parlor to the right of the entry hall. The home also has a family room. Distinguishing the various sitting areas is important.
"We have to name all our rooms because we can't find each other," George Neal says as a joke.
In the family room, where the Neals say they spend most of their time, Beth Neal had the chairs covered with a gold and black patterned toile. At the rear of the house, she tried another decorating idea by splitting an army green color at the bottom from a Ralph Lauren red at the top with a black picket fence stencil.
"I found that idea in a Country Living magazine and I held on to it for a long time," she says.
In refurbishing their house, the Neals have relied on some local people. Beth Neal bought a lot of fabric at World Wide Fabrics because her sister used to own it. She turns to Mary Beth Lyons of Lyons Upholstery to cover sofas and create with the fabric. "She made all my bedspreads, drapes and cornice boards."
In the master bedroom, the Neals have yellow walls and blue and white toile drapes. The pattern continues on the pillowcases of their Empire style bed. Its four posts are 7 feet tall. The toile pattern continues with blue and white toile wallpaper in an office off the bedroom.
For the lighting fixtures, they turn to Dick Honican of Perryville. He polishes them and gives them a whole new look. Beth Neal could not believe the difference after they had a brass wedding cake style chandelier shined.
The Neals know that the tour will bring many people into their home, but they look forward to being a part of the day that is the biggest fund-raiser for the historical society. Beth Neal recalls that visiting with people was the highlight of the first tour.
"One reason I enjoyed it was Mrs. (Frances) Leonard, who used to live here, came."
Her husband agrees.
"You meet people who have the same interests," he says.
Six homes, church and two apartments are on tour
George and Beth Neal's home will be among six homes, a church and two apartments that are on this year's historic homes tour, the 12th annual.
The tour includes the Thomas Logan House at Anderson-Dean Community Park, which possibly is the oldest brick house still standing in Mercer County. Other sites are Morgan Row, headquarters of the historical society, at 220-222 S. Chiles St.; The Academy, 101 Mooreland Ave.; St. Philip's Episcopal Church, 131 Short St.; Alexander and Royalty Funeral Home, 304 E. Lexington Ave.; Wickliffe Place, 344 E. Lexington St.; Carter-Gordon House, 436 Cane Run St.; and Shewmaker House, 1211 Perryville Road.
The tour is 1-8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are: adults, $12; and seniors and groups of 20 or more, $11. Tickets may be purchased at the society offices or by calling (859) 734-5985 or (800) 355-9192.
A Christmas tea room will be located at Morgan Row 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.The menu includes soups, sandwiches and assorted desserts.|