By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
The three-story stone and stucco home which sits upon 1.4 acres of lush property in the heart of the Highlands is not just a pretty house.
It’s the Bellarmine University Women’s Council 42nd Designers’ Show House and one the council members hope will provide another successful fundraising event.
The show house, located at 2320 Village Drive, is open to the public for tours through Sept. 25. All the money raised from the event goes into the Women’s Council Scholarship Fund, which Bellarmine makes available to students who need financial assistance.
Over the four decades since they presented the first house to the public, the women’s council has donated more than $2 million to Bellarmine’s students, said Joan Riggert, director of planned giving at Bellarmine.
The show house fundraiser usually produces between $50,000 and $100,000, said Riggert. Last year, the scholarship fund received $75,000.
The star of the show is the house, usually grand and architecturally significant. The house on Village Drive — which boasts five bedrooms, an entertainment room and a wine cellar — was designed by Louisville architect Stratton Hammon and built in 1925, said Donna Borden, a long time member of the council and co-chair of the event.
While the buzz surrounds the house, quietly working behind the scenes are members of the women’s council and hundreds of volunteers. The Bellarmine University Women’s Council, founded in 1963, has more than 200 members who promote the school in the community and raise funds for student aid.
The flurry of activity that culminates with the opening of the house start months ahead of time, said Borden. The council members started working on putting this year’s show together last November.
Their first task is to identify the right house and then meet with the owners. Next, a Bellarmine representative inspects the house to look for anything that might pose a danger to those who come to see the house during the event. Council members then meet with designers and decide who will decorate which part of the house.
Twenty-five local designers showed off their designs in 21 different sections of the house this year. In addition to the show rooms, visitors also may visit the Flavours Café, which offers foods and drinks, and Parkside Boutique, filled with scarves, jewelry and paintings for sale.
Among the women who make it happen is Barbara Montgomery, a founding member of the council. Montgomery remembers the first show house presented in the spring of 1974.
At the time, the council had a tradition of hosting a haunted house, but when the barn they always used was destroyed by fire, the ladies decided on a designers’ show house, said Montgomery.
“It’s very rewarding,” she said. “The kids of today have to be educated. Bellarmine University is one of the best places in this area to get an education. I am delighted to be a part of it.”
Joan Hedges, another founding member of the council, said Bellarmine University is special to her, because she met her husband at the school when she worked there in the mid 1950s. This year, her role is serving in Flavours Café, located in the lower level of the home.
“We’re willing to put in the time it takes, because its for a great cause,” said Hedges.
Melinda Hargadon, a member of the women’s council since 2013, was in charge of getting volunteer hostesses to show the rooms. She needed more than 200 women to fill this role, but said that may not be so hard to do.
“We get people who do it every year,” she said, adding that many volunteers look forward to receiving a call asking them to lend their time year after year. “I’ve worked with a wonderful group of women. Everyone is very positive and wants to do everything they can for the students.”
Tickets to tour the show house are available at the door or at select branches of Commonwealth Bank and Trust for $15. For more information and tour hours, visit https://bellarmine.wufoo.com/forms/show-house-tickets.