This Lovely City Home is Filled with History, Charm and Convenience

A rare find in Wilmington almost had it all. Kay and Bryan Keenan made it even more incredible.


Published:

Visitors are welcomed with a city garden of flowers and shrubs.//Photo by Joe del Tufo

On Kay Keenan’s 23rd birthday, the man who would soon become her husband helped her move.

It would be the 24th place she had called home, one for each year of her life, plus one.

Kay was born in Japan. Her father’s career in the military had taken the family around the globe, from Germany to Kansas to Rhode Island and beyond. When Kay’s husband, Bryan, a lawyer, accepted a job in Delaware, they built a home in Landenberg.

But it wasn’t until 2001 that the Keenans found a long-term destination, a big, old house in the city of Wilmington.

“We had actually looked at the house when it was for sale previously, back in 1988,” Bryan says. “When we started looking for a home in the city, we found ourselves comparing everything else to this house.”

At 4,700 square feet, the house offered such enticements as a large formal dining room, 9-foot ceilings and an attached, two-car garage with five parking spots—a rare find in the city. There was plenty of room for Kay, a sought-after marketing and fundraising consultant, to set up a home office. And it was near Bryan’s work at Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella.

“Our work, our younger daughter’s school, the arts—so many of the things we care about are in Wilmington,” Kay says. “It made sense for us to live here.”

Features that attracted the homeowners include 9-foot ceilings and original hardwood floors.//Photo by Joe del Tufo

Life in the city

The Keenans and the city were a great match from the start.

“The first night, we walked up to Ciao pizza to get dinner after the movers left,” Bryan says. “We hadn’t been able to walk to get food since we were at grad school at Syracuse.”

Their house was built in 1902 for Henry Lea Tatnall Jr. and his wife, Frances Swift Tatnall, who taught at the Misses Hebb’s School, a private school for girls that closed in 1930, the year after the Black Tuesday stock market crash plunged the nation into the Great Depression.

To fill the void, Frances Tatnall started teaching girls at home. Students soon filled all three floors of the house, so the Tatnalls moved to an apartment on Delaware Avenue. Eventually, the school evolved into The Tatnall School, an independent co-ed prep school in Greenville.

A long to-do list

The couple moved in and, in short order, began making the house their own.

“I was an Army brat, so I am used to moving,” Kay says. “We learned how to make a house a home instantly. The boxes were out of the house within 48 hours.”

They embraced original features, such as hardwood flooring in the foyer, parlor and dining room. They appreciated some of the updates made by previous owners, including a second-floor laundry room.

The Keenans also started compiling an extensive to-do list of projects they would complete over the years.

Along the way, they consulted with several pros, including architect Leslie Kelly and interior designer Lee Kallos. Contractor Dennis Cuccurullo of Brandywine Repairs & Services became their go-to guy for construction.

“We choose the people we work with very carefully,” Kay says. “They have to love old houses.”

Biff Bartron of BW Design Group came up with a plan for a sumptuous master bath, part of an expansive master suite that includes large walk-in closets illuminated by chandeliers. The bath, in shades of white and pale gray, includes heated floors, a his-and-hers vanity, and a spacious shower with seamless glass doors and Arabesque glass tiles.

A kitchen for two cooks

The kitchen’s white- and-gray grained quartzite counters complement white Shaker-style cabinets.//Photo by Joe del Tufo

They saved the kitchen, the largest and most complex project, for last. They asked Cathi Hodgins, founder of Kitchens By Design, to come up with a plan that would provide lots of storage and several prep areas.

“We invited her over for dinner. Cathi watched us cook, and she knew just what to do to make a kitchen work for two people who enjoy preparing meals together,” Kay says.

One of the Keenans’ first projects was to take down a wall between the kitchen and adjoining family room. Hodgins’ plan heightened the connection between the spaces, extending the oak flooring in the family room into the kitchen. White- and gray-grained quartzite counters are durable and elegant, complementing white Shaker-style cabinets and stainless steel appliances.

“We have so much cabinet space, we haven’t filled it up,” Kay says.

They first spied the adjustable, pull-down pendant lights over the peninsula on a cruise ship. But tracking them down was not smooth sailing. The lights surfaced again in a restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, but had been discontinued. Bryan finally found replacement lights in a retirement community while visiting his 97-year-old father.

“They are heat lamps, but we had them wired for lighting,” Kay says. “The lighting is so good you can pull them down and thread a needle.”

Dinner for 16

The spacious formal dining room features a mahogany Hepplewhite table that easily expands and contracts.//Photo by Joe del Tufo

The couple enjoy eating in their formal dining room, which runs the width of the house. “We can easily seat 14,” Kay says, “and 16 if we have to.”

The mahogany Hepplewhite table easily expands and contracts with multiple leaves and drop-down rounds. It was handed down by Kay’s mother.

“It was the perfect table for our family because we never knew what size dining room we would have in our next home,” she says.

They enjoy setting a fine table, with Waterford crystal in the Kildare pattern and the Wedgwood china they acquired as wedding gifts 39 years ago. The monogrammed Gorham St. Dunstan sterling flatware was discovered at an estate sale. “It had a K on it already,” Kay says.

The breakfront and buffet were purchased from homeowners who were redecorating their dining room. “They were happy to get rid of the mahogany—and we were happy to buy the mahogany,” Bryan says.

The foyer features a turned oak staircase and stained glass windows. It’s a gallery of sorts for the works of area artists the couple have collected over the years. Throughout the house are paintings by Scott Cameron, Mary Page Evans and Nan Jackson. There’s photography by Jim Graham and a print of Carolyn Anderson’s rendering of the annual greens show at Christ Church in Greenville.

In the parlor, a pair of taupe linen camelback settees flanks the fireplace. There is a brass-and-glass cocktail table. A small sculpture by Dee Crowley on a marble-topped Victorian end table depicts their daughter Katy as a young girl. A second seating area offers a window view.

Visitors welcome

The Keenans enjoy sharing their home with others. The bedrooms and baths on the third floor accommodate their grown daughters and their families when they visit. They have hosted members of a church choir from England and a family of six displaced by a hurricane.

“I love nothing more than the phone call or email when someone asks if they can stay at our house,” Kay says.

Adds Bryan, “It’s fun to have the grandchildren come and go up one staircase and down the other.”

The Keenans completed their urban oasis with no-mow landscaping. Visitors are welcomed with a city garden of flowers and shrubs that borders the walkway to the front door.

“Our project list is done,” Bryan says. “Now, we get to enjoy it.”


GET THE LOOK

Dine in style. The Keenans have a spacious formal dining room, which they enjoy often with guests or for an intimate supper for two. Designate the space in your home to reflect your lifestyle. The homeowners, who are empty nesters, transformed the second floor of their house into an expansive master suite. Bedrooms and baths on the third floor accommodate guests. For a carefully curated look, cluster like items. Kay Keenan, who was born in Japan, displays a grouping of small Japanese paintings in an upper-floor corridor. Renovate respectfully. Wood floors and white Shaker cabinetry are classic choices in a new kitchen that is in keeping with the rest of the house, which was built in 1902. Consider grass-free landscaping. The welcoming no-mow city garden in front of the house is a blend of flowers, low shrubs and ground cover.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

February 2018

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

The Philly Home + Garden Show will return to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks February 16-18. The show will feature highly-interactive exhibits including a full scale model smart home,...

Cost: 10

Where:
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center
100 Station Ave
Oaks, PA  19456
View map »


Sponsor: MarketPlace Events
Contact Name:

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society in partnership with The Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice are proud to present the inaugural Rehoboth Beach African-American Film Festival. The mission...

Cost: $10

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

"Choir Boy" presents a complex look at race and sexuality. Shows are at 8pm on February 16 and 17; there is a 2pm matinee on Sunday February 18. Buy tickets online at www.WilmingtonDramaLeague.org.

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

Tickets are $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students. Tickets are available at the door. Cash or check only.

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a four-session diabetes educational program, The Diabetes Connection, on February 6, 13, 20 and 27 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. Pre-registration is required. As...

Cost: Call for cost.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
View map »


Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2288
Contact Name: Nanticoke's Diabetes Education Department
Website »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

FREE COMMUNITY EVENT: MID-WEEK WORD REFRESHER Come join us at the Mid-Week Word Refresher every Wednesday at Faith Victory Christian Center from 11:00am - 12:00pm. Refreshments will be...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Faith Victory Christian Center
301 Commonwealth Avenue
Claymont, DE  19703
View map »


Sponsor: Faith Victory Christian Center
Telephone: 302.354.6726
Contact Name: Alvin Walker
Website »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

Join DCH, New Castle Conservation District staff, and Delaware Cooperative Extension to grow and learn together through an entire season! Classes are designed for a beginner, but seasoned gardeners...

Cost: $20 members; $30 non-members

Where:
Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Center for Horticulture
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Ruth Arias
Website »

More information

Clearing the mind and learning to think not thinking is Zen awareness. Taking the appropriate action in this moment is Zen. Once you know this in your body, walking, standing, sitting down,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark
420 Willa Road
Newark, DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: UUFN
Telephone: 302.368.2984
Contact Name: Richard Field
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

This community event invites attendees to sample healthy dishes prepared by local restaurants and vote for the most creative, tastiest, and best preparation. The first 200 registrants may also sign...

Where:
STAR Health Sciences Complex
540 S. College Ave
Newark, DE  19713
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore connections between people and plants in these four inspiring presentations. Special thanks to Whole Foods Market for sponsoring this  year’s refreshments. Individual lecture pricing:...

Cost: $20 members; $30 non-members

Where:
Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Center for Horticulture
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Mackenzie Knight-Fochs
Website »

More information

Tickets are $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students. Tickets are available at the door. Cash or check only.

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"What the water said…Flowers, Places, & Faces," an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Hugh Phibbs, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 2-23, 2018. A free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
Carvel State Office Building, 2nd Floor
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The area’s largest sale of gently used books has been scheduled by the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women. The 49th annual Dollars for Scholars Used Book Sale, to...

Cost: free

Where:
Concord Mall
4737 Concord Pike
North Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: American Association of University Women
Telephone: 302-428-0939

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A winter warm up of colorful, vibrant paintings. Marlene Dubin - bold mixed media abstracts; Elaine Lisle - regional landscapes in oil; Mary Ann Weselyk – whimsical animals and still life...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The area’s largest sale of gently used books has been scheduled by the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women. The 49th annual Dollars for Scholars Used Book Sale, to...

Cost: free

Where:
Concord Mall
4737 Concord Pike
North Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: American Association of University Women
Telephone: 302-428-0939

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Ronald Barron was principal trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1975 until 2008. He joined the orchestra in 1970 after being a member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and also...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

Celebrate the 12th Annual Chinese New Year at the Delaware Art Museum! This celebration includes traditional Chinese art activities, artist demonstrations, a lion and folk dance, a Chinese yo-yo...

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

For this Saturday’s activity, visitors will have fun with fluid dynamics and hydraulics - Pascal would be proud! Visitors of all ages are invited to discover solutions to science and engineering...

Cost: Free with admission; Adults: $14, Children 6-14: $5, Children 5 and under: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum and Library
200 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Website »

More information

Lights of Life Goes Disco Nights is Delaware’s premier breast cancer fundraiser to benefit the local programs and services of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. Join us for a glamorous, fun...

Cost: *VIP $125.00; *Silver Mirror Ball $50.00

Where:
Dover Downs Hotel
, 1131 North Dupont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition
Telephone: 302-778-1102
Contact Name: Eliza Mohler
Website »

More information

The Newark Symphony Chamber Orchestra presents a performance of Johann Baptist George Neruda, Trumpet Concerto in E flat, with Wendell Banyay, Trumpet.  Also to be featured will be Gabriel Faure,...

Cost: 0 - $20

Where:
Newark United Methodist Church
69 E. Main St.
Newark, DE  19711
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module