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The Porter Family Home: A Historic Christmas

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Story by Angela Reeves | Photography by Alan Hudson

Todd and Ashlea Shepherd Porter share a common love for history and its preservation, and knew when they were looking for a home they wanted a historic home in downtown Bowling Green. The Porter Home at 1139 Kentucky Street shares the couple’s love of Bowling Green’s rich architectural traditions and this year will celebrate the home’s 137th Christmas.

Their home was built in 1881, and they are inspired by the home’s testament to Bowling Green’s growth and progress which includes a preservation of the community’s history. “We like to sit on the porch and think of what was happening back in 1908 - how we would be watching the kids going to BGHS across the street, or hearing the trains dropping off materials at the Train Depot. It’s neat to think of what the occupants would have seen at that time from this same home,” said Ashlea. “It’s important to us to be a part of preserving and remembering history.” As a 2018 Landmark Association award recipient they are honored to be the caretakers of the home during their lifetime and to join the long list of previous families and those families yet to come who will enjoy the holiday season within the walls.

2018 will mark the Porter family’s second Christmas in the home and they celebrate by paying tribute to the countless families and traditions that have passed through the home before them. This year’s decorations include outdoor fence lighting, window wreaths, garland, toy soldiers, and lanterns and inside houses seven Christmas trees on the main floor and one tree upstairs in the kids area.

As soon as you step in the home, you are greeted by the foyer tree, offering a traditional look at Christmases past, accented by the room’s tribute to Bowling Green and Kentucky history. In the formal living room, off of the foyer, stands a large tree decorated in rich gold, white and silver in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. This is their most traditional Christmas tree along with a nativity scene below it. The master bedroom is home to an eccentric tree - full of deep blues, purples and greens, themed with peacock ornamentation including peacock feathers from Todd’s parents farm in Butler County.

The Parlor Room, their everyday living room, is decorated fun and whimsical, adorned with Santas everywhere, including the tree, which is the favorite of the three Porter boys. The study has a fun tree with a mixture of fun personal symbols which represent the personalities of the Porter family. The kitchen tree, as you may guess, it decorated with food items, and the upstairs tree in the kids room, is decorated with toys, matchbox cars, corvettes, star wars, and anything else the boys decide makes the cut!

The couple’s favorite Christmas tree in the home, stands proud in the formal dining room, which is named the “War Room.” In this room hangs photographs of every president who ever served in the military along with several photographs and pictures of historic moments in war times and war memorabilia collected by the couple. The Christmas tree in this room pays tribute to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It includes photographs of Todd’s family members who have served in the armed forces, Todd himself being a veteran of the Kentucky Army National Guard, and includes Ashlea’s favorite ornaments - yearly collectible ornaments from the White House Historical Association. “This room is about celebrating this wonderful nation and those who have given the ultimate gift in protecting our freedoms,” said Ashlea.

With Todd in law enforcement, they have learned to appreciate each day they get together, especially during the holidays, because family time can be hard to plan. When they can, they celebrate Christmas with the Porter family in Butler County - and enjoy a homemade meal from Todd’s grandmother who they all agree is the “best cook in the entire world,” and they celebrate with Ashlea’s family in Muhlenberg County. Ashlea always looks forward to the Christmas Spectacular and meal at Patti’s 1880’s Settlement in Grand Rivers, KY, a tradition they’ve had since her youth, which will be missed this year, but they’re excited about the renovation and reopening for next year. Growing up Ashlea’s family would open a present a day for the 12 days of Christmas leading up to Christmas, a tradition which they have continued as a family.

Since purchasing the house the Porters have been able to repaint the exterior and interior and do odd and end repairs but were lucky the previous owners did quite a bit of updating and major repairs. They plan to add on a back sunroom, which used to be there but was torn down over the years, as well as add in a pool and carriage house as long-term plans. The main goal, however, is to preserve the beautiful home as much as they can in the years they are able to enjoy it.

The Porter home is being featured this year in the Landmark Association of Bowling Green and Warren County’s annual Christmas Home Tour on December 2nd, from 1:00 to 5:00 as well as the Women’s Club Christmas Home Tour on December 9th from 1:00 - 5:00, benefitting the BG Women’s Club WKU Scholarship Fund.

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