Monday, March 28, 2016
One of Georgia's more architecturally-intriguing houses is Villa Albicini, the Philip Shutze-designed Italianate house located in the city of Macon. Built in 1927, the house was not originally named Villa Albicini. That moniker came about much later when Macon native Betty Hay Curtis purchased the house in the mid-1960s. Hoping to restore the then-faded house to its former glory, Curtis enlisted the help of her decorator friend, Charles Townsend, who found an exquisite pair of embroidered panels for the home's dining room. (I believe these panels date to the late-seventeenth or early-eighteenth century.) The panels had been stitched by French female embroiderers who, at the invitation of Maria Theresa, Marchesa Albicini, traveled to Italy to practice their craft at the Albicini Palace in Forli, Italy. It was the panels' lineage that inspired Curtis to refer to her new house as "Villa Albicini."
What strikes me about this house is that it is not particularly large. (Don't we wish that some homeowners and their architects would follow in Shutze's footsteps by building houses in smaller yet architecturally-meaningful ways.) Upon entering the house's entrance gallery, you'll find a dining room to the left and a drawing room to the right. Walk straight ahead through a small rotunda and down a few steps, you'll discover a light-filled morning room, which looks out onto the gardens. Off of the rotunda are a kitchen, breakfast room, and (I believe) two bedrooms and baths, while an additional bedroom and bath, which was a later addition, is located upstairs, above the morning room.
A few things to note while looking at these circa-1979 photos: Above both doors leading to the dining and drawing rooms are trompe l'oeil-painted overdoor moldings. The dining room's Venetian chandelier was made for the house, while hand-painted Chinese wallpaper graces the morning room's walls. And it should be mentioned that decorator David Byers also worked on the home's interiors. I assume that one of his contributions was the set of red-lacquered dining chairs with seats upholstered in a Chinese-medallion silk fabric. Byers sold my parents another set of these chairs covered in the same fabric, although in a robin's egg blue colorway. We still dine in these chairs today.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Villa Albicini, whose current homeowner is breathing new life into the home. While much about the house remains the same (with the exception of the Albicini panels, which live elsewhere these days,) a sense of renewal permeates the house. With a sensitive homeowner at the helm, Villa Albicini is poised once again to delight future generations.
Photos from Southern Accents, Spring 1979, Sutlive/Warren photographer