Philanthropists John and Amy Quinn move in and refresh Lucille “Lu” Drackett’s home in Port Royal
John and Amy Quinn never met Lucille “Lu” Drackett, the late Naples philanthropist and former owner of the Keewaydin Club. And yet, their lives are linked. The Quinns now reside in Lu’s beloved home, Admiralty Parade, which she lovingly designed to her exact tastes, using master craftsmen and drawing inspiration from her extensive travels.
In other hands, the estate would likely have faced the wrecking ball. But the Quinns, with the help of the home’s original architect, Jeff Harrell of Jeff Harrell Architects, and interior designer Dani Glickson of LVD Spaces, recognized the value of preservation and updating this piece of local history. That’s not to say it didn’t take a lot of imagination and a bit of conviction.
The 6,637-square-foot, four-bedroom, six-bathroom home was built in 1999 to exacting standards, using some of the latest techniques and materials. Cove lighting, salvaged beams, and precast masonry are all featured prominently throughout. A soaring vaulted great room makes the full impression on entering, and grand fireplaces, exposed period beams, a glorious verandah and enough stonework and carpentry to make an Italian countess blush, let you know you’re in. a special place. The house is, like its former owner, a grande dame. “I’ve worked in a lot of houses and this one, from the moment we walked in, I felt this incredible energy,” Dani says. “It was very special, and I didn’t want it to go away as we started to take it apart.”
When Lu died in 2018, her four sons (Chad, Chris, Spencer and Barrett Ott) listed the house, still filled with deep colors and heavy furniture and accessories that Lu hand-selected all those years ago. “Our mother loved the design process and she built the house she wanted. She wasn’t afraid to be different,” Chad says. “Leaving the house intact allowed us to remember her.”
Although many offers came from buyers who planned to demolish the house, the Ott brothers were in no rush to sell and chose to wait for someone who would pay attention to the sanctuary their mother had created. The Quinns, who arrived in Naples from Newport Beach, Calif., in February 2020 (“Basically two weeks before the country shut down,” John recalls), initially had the same idea. The couple were initially deterred by the Victorian-style furnishings, ornamental architectural features, and dark, heavy colors. “It wasn’t us,” Amy said.
In the meantime, various friends of the Quinns also considered buying the property, but were also put off by its Gothic design elements. Everyone agreed that the house should be demolished. But in 2021, John and Amy Quinn returned for another guided tour, this time with architect Jeff Harrell. “His homes are very unique,” says John.
Jeff knew the house was worth saving. “Lu loved antiques and art and traveled a lot,” says Jeff. “She wanted an elegant European-style house.” Vaults were an essential detail for Jeff and Lu to make an elevated space more welcoming. “Because it springs from a low level, you don’t feel like you’re in a cave,” he says. “That’s the beauty of walking in space, it’s comfortable when you walk inside.”
In the end, it was interior designer Dani whe saw past the weirdness of the Old World and convinced the Quinns of the potential. “You couldn’t build this house today with what they paid for,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know what to do with an old house; they think we have to shoot it down. We wanted to show that you can take something like this and make it work. Dani was captivated by the history and craftsmanship of the house, as well as the stories of its owner and her famous parties. “Everything suited her lifestyle and tastes and she loved to entertain,” she says. But Lu’s lifestyle, with her husband gone and all of her adult and out-of-home children, was very different from what the Quinns, a family with three children under the age of 10, would need. “We thought: “How to make it functional while respecting the original architecture? Dani recalls.
She saw a clear path forward: they would lighten the palette, reclaim space to make every square inch usable, and allow architecture to set the stage for a modern home like no other, with the bones of a French country estate and the attitude of a breezy California beach house. “We knew we wanted to go light and bright, because the space was very dark,” she says. “And we knew we couldn’t remove the stone. So we started considering the stone as the main element and went from there.
Dani and the team – which included Newberry North for the majority of the construction and D. Garrett Construction for the bathrooms – had four months to transform the stately home into a welcoming and livable space for a family of five. “You never know what you’ll find in a house like this,” she says. “You have to be patient and prepared for things not to end exactly where you wanted them to.”
JThe exterior, which was Mediterranean gold, was painted white. Inside, Dani covered the walls with a creamy white, removed molding and excess stone (including a few scattered false columns), redone the interior of the fireplace, cleaned all the Jerusalem stone from the floors and walls and, where appropriate, painted mahogany. decorate windows, doors and walls with a stark, modern black. Dani loved the stately reclaimed wood beams, but felt the colors of the house didn’t do them justice. “The dark paint distracted you and you didn’t look up,” she says. She tested 15 shades of white before finding the perfect shade to complement the stone and beams: Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee, 75% diluted.
Lighting was the biggest challenge. The house was dark and needed a lot more light, but every time the electrician cut into the ceiling, he found trusses where the light fixtures couldn’t go. “We had to come up with a lot of solutions on the fly,” says Dani. Throughout, all light fixtures have been replaced, LEDs have been added where the old halogen bulbs resided, and recessed cans have been cut into the ceiling to provide more overhead lighting.
In the dining room, the team got rid of the brown Venetian plaster and gold chandeliers and added neutral, minimalist furnishings and accents, “just to break up the stone a bit and balance out the heavier stone and wood. “, explains Dani. A painting of local artist Kristy Gammill now anchors the space.
The kitchen was surprisingly modern for a 21 year old house. Apart from the addition of contemporary fittings and a cloakroom (closely associated with the original cabinetry) for backpacks and sundries, it remains largely the same, with its Dacor appliances and granite island in leather. “A lot of these things, like leather-finish granite, are back in fashion but so hard to find, so I said keep it,” Dani says.
The major living room makeover involved the television above the fireplace (in working order). “The fireplace had a top with a painted mural and doors storing a small small television. And I was like, ‘This won’t work for you, John.’ So, we cut out the top of the stone and all that drywall and did it again. Where they could, furniture was reused Quinns’ old house. But Dani had fun adding pieces like the Lazar Industries sofa in the family room with quilting on the back that matches the French pattern on the floors. After the sunroom was painted its lime green hue, all the furniture was added (RH chairs, custom Kelly Wearstler pillows, Dovetail coffee table, Circa chandelier). “It’s the best room in the house, where you go to sit with your friends and spend all your time. I wanted to maximize the space and not distract from the view with the color.” Dani says. “I didn’t want the eye to go anywhere other than the view, but I also wanted it to look more than one-dimensional, so we played with the tone.”
Upstairs, the carpet in the master bedroom has been replaced and heavy gold tapestries and murals have given way to a more soothing blue palette. The main bath has been drained: the large double-layered sunken bath has been pulled out; came a new plump on a platform for a freestanding tub, repositioned textured tiles and sprays for the shower, and a double vanity to replace the small no-storage version that was there before. The only thing left is the tiled floor, which “looks like the St. Regis,” Dani says.
While their son Austin’s bedroom needed little work, the other kids’ shared bedroom needed a total overhaul to make it special for two little girls who previously had their own spaces. Non-functional nooks have become arts and crafts stations, reading nooks, and a secret playroom in a small, sloping former storage area. “We used every square inch of this house,” Dani says.
Back downstairs, the den, which Amy uses as her office, was one of the first rooms renovated. “It was dark green with burlap panels,” John recalls. “We sanded and painted the burlap Nantucket Blue and the trim white.” They also added cove lighting, updated the sconces and overhead lighting, painted the ceiling white, and kept the parquet flooring. It was an easy upgrade.
Nearby, the powder room is a playful ode to the house’s original design, with its Gucci lion-print wallpaper. “Amy let me go wild here,” Dani says. “The wallpaper nods to the lion details that appear throughout the house – in the fountain outside, the scones, the fireplace.”
Renovating, the Quinns were in their new home within months. If they had to build new, the construction would have taken at least two years. “While some older homes would cost more to renovate and aren’t worth it, there are so many homes here that could be like that,” Dani says. “You take away the Napoli vibe so much by tearing down every house. This city, and in particular Port Royal, was built in a very particular way; why are we scratching all this?
She points to the state of the home after Hurricane Ian and how the property remained unscathed after one of the fifth largest storms reported in United States history: “It’s a testament to the craftsmanship and the meticulousness with which this house was built.”
Photograph by Dan Cutrona