Sep 27, 2010 7:36 AM by Posted by Sharlee Barriere
NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) - Gordon Doerle's new home on Main Street brings together inspiration from a lifetime of travels, materials from five continents and larger-than-life ideas.
During construction it drew curious onlookers. Residents weighed in on whether it fit the aesthetics of Main Street in New Iberia.
The project started a year ago and was slated to only take six months, Doerle said. It was more challenging than he and architect Simone Guillory imagined.
Twelve months and $1.5 million later, Doerle rests his head in his new 3,000-square foot home that consists of only two rooms in the main portion.
The facade has drawn the most attention with its marble columns, ornate "D" and Roman numeral address. Doerle said it's a replica of the facade of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France.
Beyond the gigantic wooden front door, which was shipped from France, is an open living space complete with a state of the art kitchen, full-service bar, alligator-upholstered sectional couch and a 120-inch flat screen television atop a Brazilian slate-tiled floor. The interior design is minimal and has an old world feeling.
Below the largest television most people have ever seen outside of a movie theater is an ornate marble fireplace mantle complete with scantily clad female figures. The mantle was shipped in four crates along with the marble used on the facade and balcony from China.
The back wall of the room is glass including two sets of French doors looking out onto a pool and courtyard. Even the pool is unusual, giving the effect of a puddling lake just like one he saw in Germany, he said.
Above part of the pool is a tiled dome similar to designs he saw in castles in Versailles, France. The second story is what Doerle calls the library. It's his bedroom but was modeled after a library he visited in Germany.
The walls are lined with mahogany from Africa. In the middle of the room, below a skylight indigenous to the building, is the bed, also made of alligator. Components of a bathroom also are in this open area - a glass shower off to one side, a granite topped sink further down and toward the back a super-sized jacuzzi that fills with water that falls from the ceiling.
That touch, Doerle said, comes from a suite at the Palms in Las Vegas. Beyond the mahogany walls are secret compartments for storage and other necessities.
Doerle said his home may not mesh with everyone's taste but that it is just that - his home. "I think I've enhanced Main Street more than anything." Doerle said.
Renovating on Main Street comes with its own challenges, Doerle said, one of which is sharing common walls with other businesses and residences. He said many of city ordinances for renovating spaces downtown date back 50 years and often are no longer applicable. He had to get permission for 20-foot-high fences around his courtyard. He said the high fence provides more privacy to
himself and his neighbors, but the city ordinance limits fences in the city center to 8 feet high.
"In New Orleans, this is how they do it," Doerle said. "I was the first one. There are many limitations to building out of theses structures on Main Street. You are only 25-feet wide so you have very limited yard space to do anything."
In addition, the building's location in a fire district area increased construction costs by 20 to 30 percent, he said.
"All the electrical had to be at a commercial evel," Doerle said. "And, we had to put a two-hour fire rated wall. Two layers of fire-rated Sheetrock, which means you have two hours until fire penetrates the walls."
Doerle said he and Guillory started the project with a one-page plan and drew more as they went along.
"You don't know what's behind these walls or what things are going to look like until you get in there," he said. "We drove the city permit office nuts, I'm sure. There were things that came up that they didn't have the answers for. New ordinances could help the process not be so complicated."
Under construction now is a two-story garage and guest quarters behind the courtyard. Doerle said he will finish the exterior of that building and complete the inside - two guest bedrooms - over time.
For now, he is content, though he chuckles when asked if this is his "forever home."
And it seems his neighbors are finding the positives, too, in the new addition.
Sandy Stonicher who lives to Doerle's right, said it doesn't matter what other people, including herself, think of Doerle's new digs.
"This is his home," she said. "I can't fault the man for building his home exactly as he wanted it. Not many people are willing to put themselves out on a limb like that. He has been trying very hard to work with the neighbors."
New Iberia lawyer Dean Wattigny, whose law firm is to Doerle's left, said the building does invoke interest.
"It seems like he has certainly spent some funds there," Wattigny said. "It's good to see the versatility that we're getting on Main Street. And we certainly don't mind the investment in downtown either."