FRANKFORT — Joe Martin of Danville is a wisecracker from the first answer. When asked how it came about he was decorating a room in the Old Governor’s Mansion, Martin quips, “They wanted the best.”
His daughter, Mary Cynthia Martin, owner of the interior design company her father started in 1952, Martin-Durr-Caldwell, smiles wryly. She points out her dad is the sixth oldest practicing designer in the nation.
Mary Cynthia Martin adds Joe Martin is a guest curator for Williamsburg, Va. That position and his specialty in American antiques made them easy choices for decorating a room at the Old Governor’s Mansion.
“Ann Evans (executive director of the Old Governor’s Mansion) knew about Daddy and Williamsburg and our Christmas trees. … I thought this would be fun to do,” Mary Cynthia Martin said. “We do a lot of historical homes, so this was up our alley.”
Joe Martin, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, sketches his designs. Other hands — on this day, under his watchful eye — bring those sketches to life.
Evans said the idea for the designers’ showcase at the Old Governor’s Mansion was that of renowned Kentucky designer Jon Carloftis, a dear personal friend of Evans. And the idea has taken on a life of its own, she noted.
“Jon Carloftis truly is one of Kentucky’s most giving sons. … He is amazing. He is so proud of his state, and he gives back so much,” Evans noted, adding, in all, 11 designers are decorating the Old Governor’s Mansion.
“This is just so exciting. We have people coming from all over the state to see these wonderful decorations.”
The designers are putting together holiday décor that visitors can look at and enjoy, but also that should make them think, “I could do that,” Evans said.
First Lady Jane Beshear had walked through the mansion earlier in the day and said the people of Kentucky are the commonwealth’s greatest resource.
“She is so proud and so grateful to the people who have taken on this project,” Evans explained.
“The money (raised by the mansion tours) will go specifically for the preservation of the Old Governor’s Mansion.”
A preview holiday party will be 7-10 p.m. today at the mansion. The cost is $100 per person.
A preview luncheon will be held beginning at noon Friday at the Executive Governor’s Mansion, 704 Capital Ave. The cost is $125 per person; seating is limited. For reservations, call (502) 564-5500 or email email@example.com.
SO YOU KNOW
Christmas at the Old Governor’s Mansion, sponsored by Flower magazine and L.V. Harkness, will be Friday through Dec. 9 at the historical site, 420 High St., Frankfort. Holiday showcase and gift shop hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday. The gift shop features holiday décor, books, soaps and lotions, fans and teas, among other items.
Cost is $20 per person; tickets sold at the door. All proceeds go to the Kentucky Executive Mansions Foundation Inc. for the preservation of the Old Governor’s Mansion.
The Old Governor’s Mansion is the nation’s oldest executive residence, circa 1797. It will feature displays by acclaimed landscape designer Jon Carloftis and other Kentucky designers, including Joe Martin and Mary Cynthia Martin-Durr-Caldwell.
For more information, call (502) 564-5500.