The Richmond Register

September 3, 2013

‘Richmond Downtown Abbey’ to be Arts Gala theme

Special to the Register

RICHMOND — Join honorary hosts Mike and Debi Benson for one of Richmond’s premiere events, the annual RAAC Arts Gala on Friday, Sept. 20, at the historic Elmwood Estate.

The theme for this year’s gala is “Richmond Downtown Abbey,” a take-off on the popular British program “Downton Abbey” that is broadcast on Sunday evenings during the winter season by KET.

England has its Hyclere Castle, called Downton Abbey in the TV program, but Richmond has its Elmwood.

Live music will be provided for the event by the Miles of Jazz Orchestra. In addition, patrons will enjoy artists booths, silent auction, heavy hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and a tour of Elmwood House.

Attire is business casual or period attire from the 1920s or 1930s.

Have your photos made in the Elmwood carriage or one of the vintage cars that will be on display. 

Parking and access to Elmwood will be in the Lancaster Lot between Elmwood and the old Lackey property, now Grand Campus at Yorick Place.

Tickets for the Richmond Area Arts Councils biggest fundraiser of the year are $60 in advance and $70 the day of the event.

Proceeds help maintain RAAC's arts education program, including the successful Fun With the Arts after-school program.

For tickets or more details, visit, email or by call 624-4242.

The Elmwood Estate is located on Lancaster Avenue across from Eastern Kentucky University in a forest-like setting.

Named Elmwood for the trees which originally stood on the 20 acres of land, the mansion inspires an aura of mystery and appreciation for days gone by.

The home has not been occupied since the death of Miss Emma Watts on Dec. 22, 1970. She was the only child of William Walker Watts (1836-1912) and Mary Parkes Watts (1848-1934). 

William Watts was a Confederate military veteran who made his fortune after the Civil War from cattle and cotton operations in Texas.

Elmwood, built in 1887, the same year Miss Emma was born, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

The house cost $35,000 to build and is one of four homes in Richmond designed by Samuel E. des Jardins, a French-Canadian architect who practiced in Cincinnati.

The 600,000 bricks needed to complete the 9,000 square foot, three-story manor were fired on the grounds.

Elmwood is an example of Chateaueseque architecture and includes a conical turret, a divided chimney in the dining room with a stained glass window in its center. A porte corchere on the house's north side allowed guests to arrive by carriage and be quickly ushered into the side entrance.

Miss Emma’s will provided for her estate to be preserved exactly as it was at the time of her death. Don’t miss the opportunity to step back in history as you enjoy a tour of stately Victorian home.