Fred Montesi, owner of a small chain of Memphis grocery stores, commissioned the architectural firm of Regan and Walker to design this house. (The firm also designed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, just up the street.)
The Montesi house is in a restrained Spanish Colonial Revival style, with stucco walls inside and out, an early use of industrial metal window frames (many of which have been replaced), and a terra-cotta tile roof.
The interior has a sumptuously large living room with a vaulted and beamed ceiling, made to feel even grander by being one step below the rest of the house. The firebox and chimney were recently redone and a custom, cut limestone mantel installed.
One of the character-defining elements of the house is its original tilework, still in perfect condition. The first example most visitors encounter is the sunroom floor, made of multicolored tiles. Both the master bedroom, which has recently had a large dressing room added, and the adjoining bedroom have their original, en-suite baths, each with a Deco palette of tiles. The master has green tile with matching tub, toilet, and pedestal sink. All of the original plumbing fittings have been restored and reinstalled. This bath can be viewed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has a photograph of it in its permanent collection, taken by William Eggleston, a longtime inhabitant of the house.
The current owners have been equally meticulous in the remainder of the house. The original third bedroom has been converted to a media room, with doors to the rear yard and patio. Eggleston's studio and darkroom were converted to attached guest quarters. This new third bedroom has its own seating area, kitchen, bath, and walk-in closet.
The kitchen was remodeled and has a commercial, dual-fuel range with double convection ovens. The kitchen, too, retains its original tile floor and is further accented by a hand-painted Italian tile backsplash. In keeping with the ceramic leitmotif, the adjoining den/breakfast room has a new Saltillo tile floor.
The grounds were also treated beautifully. The acre lot has been groomed to a fare-thee-well. The sunny front yard has a Colorado red-stone patio connecting the parking court to the front entry. Broad gravel walks encircle the remaining front yard, passing both a formal pool with a fountain near the entry and a koi pond with a waterfall further on.
The rear yard has an organic-shaped patio with three seating areas under several mature shade trees. The perimeter of the property is filled with a variety of privacy plantings, and it's all conveniently irrigated to keep everything picture perfect. •
1592 Central; 3,100 sq. ft.
3 bedrooms, 3 baths; $607,500
Realtor: Coleman-Etter, Fontaine, 767-4100
Agent: Jeanne Arthur