Victorian charmer

Entertainment Home + Garden

November 28, 2022



Tour this 1903 Fourth Ward home and others as the neighborhood brings back its festive holiday home tour Dec. 1-3

by Page Leggett | photographs by Austin Caine 

You don’t have to fly to London to experience a Charles Dickens-style Christmas. Charlotte’s Fourth Ward is so much closer. 

The uptown neighborhood’s festive, self-guided “Sip & Stroll” tour returns Dec. 1-3. The outdoor “porch crawl” includes food and beverage tastings (while supplies last), live music and golf-cart rides. Merrymakers who want a closer look at the Victorian splendor can purchase an upgraded holiday home tour ticket. 

It’s the only way to see the exquisite interiors of Brittani and Brian Phillips’ home. They’ve been Fourth Ward denizens since 2005. The couple moved into their historic home at 315 W. 9th Street before they had children. Now, they have an 11-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter — plus a pool and sports court for year-round entertainment. 

Brittani’s parents, Christine and Rick Rotunda, bought the house next door in 2018, and the two families integrated their backyards into what Brittani calls a “family compound” in 2020. Brian’s father, David, also lives in a condo just down the street. The combined backyards contain small, Charleston-style gardens and three running fountains. Dual covered porches feature an indoor gas fireplace and outdoor wood-burning fireplace. “It feels like an oasis,” Brittani says. 

The Phillips home was 2,400 square feet when they bought it. In three renovations, they’ve expanded it to 5,624 square feet, redone the back porch, added a second-floor master suite and a third story, which contains a New Orleans-themed pub and bathroom. The traditional, antique-filled home includes modern touches and several items of French provenance, including a custom-made La Cornue range. 

Constructed as an understated Victorian in 1903, the Phillips home was designed with four primary rooms and a central hallway. Today, there’s a library to the right of the Gucci wallpaper-clad foyer. The library features the recently refinished player piano Brittani and her brother grew up with. To the left of the foyer is a living room. “We tend to use the library, which has a masculine feel, in the winter when we can turn on the fireplace and use the other, more feminine, front room in the spring and summer,” Brittani says.

The ongoing home renovation by general contractor Urban Building Group was paused for the home tour. The family room, playroom and  kitchen, which now has a pantry for the first time, haven’t even been broken in yet. 

The couple stays busy with young children and their work. Brian is founder and executive chairman of MedShift, a medical technology company. The Phillipses are also real-estate investors. Brittani, a real-estate agent, manages the portfolio. Along with another Fourth Ward couple, the Phillipses recently bought the 122-year-old, Queen Anne-style house at 224 W. 10th Street that’s home to Poplar Tapas, Wine & Spirits. 

Other home features of note: Three imported, hand-carved fireplace mantels of marble and travertine (the home boasts four fireplaces); original hardwoods and 11-foot ceilings; an early 1900s chandelier in the mirrored dining room; solid wood moldings and paneling; and a kitchen table and third-floor bar constructed of locally reclaimed barn wood. 

The Phillips home is even more spectacular when decked for the season. Brittani has been ready. “I love Christmas,” she says. “By the time October rolls around, I’m excited to get out the decorations, and even more so when our house is on the tour.” (It was part of the neighborhood’s Secret Gardens tour in 2021 and the holiday tour in 2014.)

Every home is a reflection of its owner, and the Phillips house says a lot about the family that lives there. “This house is all of me,” Brittani says. “It’s everything we’ve dreamed about. We don’t ever see ourselves leaving.”  SP 

Want to go? The Fourth Ward Holiday Sip & Stroll + Holiday Home Tour happens Dec. 1-3 from 5 to 9 p.m. Tickets, which usually sell out in advance, range from $30 to $60 each. Buy them at Friends of Fourth Ward’s website, fourthwardclt.org

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