Three generations of family history and tradition live and breathe amidst the nooks and crannies of Spring Hill’s historic 1935 Peake House — affectionately nicknamed by its current thirty-something owners John “Day” Peake III and Jason G. McKenzie, as “Hill House.”
During the 1930s, after moving from Virginia to Mobile, John Day Peake Sr., the first radiologist on the central Gulf Coast, and his wife “Tib” Peake, constructed a magnificent home on a local hilltop with an eye towards future family gatherings and frequent entertaining. The plan drew upon the couple’s love of all things English and Virginian and was erected with the help of architect Harry Inge Johnstone. Their vision resulted in a home and setting that transcends time.
Now, 77 years later, that solid design foundation provides an exceptional backdrop for the home-owners’ updated aesthetic. While antique heirlooms lend a respectful nod to the formality of Day’s grandparents’ style, rooms also incorporate modern, whimsical elements. For example, the dining room showcases traditional pieces, like a George III chest-on-chest and an art piece copied from an ancient Alexandria tomb painting. In a humorous juxtaposition, a wrench rests on an old sideboard. Day and Jason share a mutual love for “Clue, ” the whodunit murder mystery film, so every space includes a “hidden” weapon featured in the board game.
Personality and an inviting atmosphere are apparent around every corner. “We really enjoy living in such a great structure, ” Day adds, “and we want the home to be a place where all our friends feel welcome and we can entertain.”
The gardens that Day’s grandfather once cultivated still play a role in all sorts of get-togethers, from football game parties to formal weddings. As the resident “chef, ” Day selects herbs from the backyard to prepare French cuisine, like slow-roasted tomatoes and other Provencal-based recipes, while Jason creates dramatic tablescapes and floral vignettes using exquisite blooms and foliage from the picturesque property. It’s a modern-day tip of the hat to beloved Peake rituals. For Day, renovating his ancestors’ home was “a way to continue decades of traditions and create a gathering spot for family events, honoring my grandparents in the process.”