Continuing A Legacy
St. Louis is a city full of history. Living with the area’s legacy is an everyday occurrence for the residents of its many beautiful, longstanding neighborhoods. For Russell Jackson, owning an older home comes with a sense of stewardship that he gladly accepts. The Central West End home he shares with Alex Gutierrez has become a way to celebrate the StL and everyone who lives here.
T&S | What do you like about the neighborhood?
Russell Jackson | I love everything about it. It’s an historic area, so the homes aren’t cookie cutter. Despite having been constructed around the same time, they have a variety of architectural styles. The people who live here understand that we are holding these homes in trust for the future. They treat them with the respect they deserve. It’s an incredibly friendly and diverse group of people. I enjoy sitting out on my front terrace and having my neighbors stop by.
T&S | Were you looking for a historic home?
RJ | Yes, I had narrowed down my search to a few streets in the Central West End in particular. Along with wanting to be in the city, I had peered through the gates of these homes when I was young. I was excited to be able to have my own piece of history.
T&S | Do you know anything about the home’s history?
RJ | It was constructed for the eldest daughter of John Liggett of Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company. He had three daughters, and each received a home in the neighborhood when they got married. This home was built in 1911 and modeled after the French pavilion at the World’s Fair, which had been based on the Grand Trianon at Versailles.
T&S | Have you made any interesting discoveries?
RJ | The house previously was owned by Lucianna Gladney Ross. Her father was one of the founders of 7Up, and she was a noted local philanthropist and benefactor around town. There was a box in the attic that my electrician was using to collect bits of wire and other things. Alex discovered there were a number of documents at the bottom. We returned them to Lucianna’s family, including a letter from her father-in-law. He was Harry Truman’s press secretary, and it was written on White House stationary. We got to keep a few of the items, including a photograph, a newspaper article about her studying at The Sorbonne in Paris and the certificates she earned there. To honor her, we’ve framed them and put them in one of the bedrooms. We’ve met so many people who have wonderful stories about Lucianna. We’re incredibly honored to now be the caretakers of this house, and we consider her to be family in a way. She inspires us to live with the same giving spirit.
T&S | Did you make any renovations?
RJ | I created a new master suite on the front side of the house from two existing bedrooms. Some of the other larger changes included updating the electrical and adding recessed lighting in the grand hallway and living room.
T&S | Did the age of the house affect how you approached design?
RJ | Yes, it definitely did. When I lived in New York, I primarily had modern furniture and abstract art. In order to do this house justice, I sought help and worked with Jimmy Jamieson of Jamieson Design. I wanted historic pieces but wasn’t looking to have a period decorated home. I went with items that have elements of history and mixed well together. There is some Art Deco and Louis XVI style furniture along with items from other periods.
T&S | Do you have a favorite room?
RJ | I love them all for different reasons. I like to have cocktails in the living room and sit by the fire on a winter night. I enjoy having my morning coffee and reading the newspaper in the salon. I also love the Chinoiserie wallpaper in my office.
T&S | How is the home for entertaining?
RJ | It’s fantastic. One of the things that attracted me to the house was the sense of openness on the first floor. The rooms all have French doors that open into a grand hallway. We use the hallway space a lot for parties and dinners. We do try to entertain a lot, although COVID has put things on pause. I’m board chairman at Jazz St. Louis, and we’ve hosted several fundraisers and salons with musicians.