Old locks give new twist to architect's dream home

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By Lisa King

Inside stuff:


Address:139 Fox Run

Owners:Neal and Barbara Hammon

Statistics:3,500 square feet, 2 stories, 8 rooms, 6 working fireplaces


Built: 1977;designed by Neal Hammon

Accoutrements:All locks in the house made between 1820 and 1860


Neal Hammon can testify to the truth of the old saying, "They don't make 'em like they used to."

Every door in his home sports a unique lock, and what's more, every one of them is at least 150 years old, with most being even older.

Hammon, a Navy veteran, architect, historian and author, leaned back in his favorite chair in his library filled with books, many of them either written by, or about him or his father, well-known architect Stratton Hammon, and gestured toward a nearby door.

"They are all made of wrought iron," he said.

Hammon is not eccentric, said his wife, Barbara, with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

"They don't make them like that anymore," she said, pointing to the lock, but directing her comment toward her husband.

Hammon designed their two-story brick home on Fox Run himself 37 years ago. A mixture of Colonial and Federal styles, the stately structure sits well back from the road, on 30 acres of well-manicured lawns with a circular drive in front. The grandeur of a Welsh grandfather clock in the front entranceway greets visitors, setting the stage for elegance blended with a tasteful combination of antiques and decor reflecting exotic areas of the globe, encompassing the Netherlands, Korea, Japan, England, and of course, early America.

Several pieces of artwork by Stratton Hammon, some depicting George Washington, adorn the wall over one of the home's six working fireplaces. In the dining room, however, a fireplace inlaid with blue and white Dutch Delph tile, which is his wife's favorite, its mantle, Hammon says, that has a unique history of its own.

"I got that mantle for five dollars that I borrowed from Bob Logan," he said with a chuckle.

The couple moved to Shelbyville from Jefferson County 37 years ago after their home there was heavily damaged by a tornado, then when they rebuilt, it was struck by lightning.

Hammon has designed several homes in Shelby County, as well as several commercial businesses.

Both the Hammons say the back room of the house, an enclosed porch, is one of their favorite rooms to lounge around in.

Walking into the room through a set of French doors, one call scarcely call the room merely, "just a porch."

Elegant simplicity is found with wrought iron tables and oversized comfortable chairs that overlook a spacious lawn dotted with flower gardens and trees.

"I love the porch, especially in the summer,” Neal Hammon said. “There's a great view, and we like to eat out here.”

Barbara Hammon added: "We don't have breakfast out here every morning, but we usually have coffee here."

Walking around to the front of the house, Neal Hammon explained the absence of gutters.

"They're nothing but trouble," he said, adding that that their original purpose years ago was only to catch rain water.

A lamp post containing a light enclosed by a glass lantern style globe, made in Germany just for the Hammons, adorns the front lawn, while an old-style weather vane perches atop the house with the sun gleaming off of it and the brass handrails on the front porch.

On a sultry summer day, the back porch might be a better place to settle down with a cold glass of lemonade and a good book, like his most recent one published last year, John Floyd, the Life and Letters of a Frontier Surveyor.

"Well, I think we better go back in and be comfortable," Hammon said.

One might reflect that the Hammon's home is a great deal like they are, elegant on the outside, but filled with so many unique surprises that it takes a long time to learn about them all.