Hathcock, Broyles, Gearhart, Jane Hunt. In Fayetteville, those names are synonymous with medicine, college athletics at the University of Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas Times and philanthropy, respectively. They’re also the names of some of the families who’ve once made the elegant two-story brick house on Washington Avenue their home.
Dr. P.L. Hathcock built the house in 1937 for his family. According to the Arkansas Country Doctor Museum, the beloved Dr. Hathcock, known for his kindness and understanding, delivered more than 5,000 babies and established the Hathcock Clinic. In later years Dr. Hathcock saw patients in a room above the home’s garage, which had been converted to a clinic and was accessed by a wooden staircase outside. When he retired from medical practice, Dr. Hathcock was well into his 80s.
After Frank Broyles was hired in the late 1950s as University of Arkansas head football coach, he rented the house from the Hathcocks. Then, in 1962, George and Joan Gearhart purchased the house and raised their four sons, Van, David, Douglas and Jeff, there. David went on to serve as chancellor of the University of Arkansas from 2008 until 2015. The family owned the home for nearly 45 years before selling it in 2006.
In September, Brad Beach and Dr. Elkin Perez, a professor at the University of Arkansas, moved in. They had lived a block away for many years and, upon learning the owner of the house was moving, knew they wanted the house. Conveniently, another neighbor bought their house. Beach and Perez loved the neighborhood and were happy to stay close, enjoying the convenience of the area and the proximity to the U of A, where Perez teaches Spanish.
“We wanted a big living room with two seating areas, an eat-in kitchen and separate living spaces,” Beach said. “I’ve never been a big fan of the open floor plan that the younger people like now. I’m more traditional in my design. I like separate areas.”
By Nancy Peevy | Photos by Chadwick Turner
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Recently retired, Beach’s career was in the furniture industry. For the last several years he’d been in product development for Dorel Home Products, and prior to that, he was a senior director of product development for Walmart furniture. His experience made him a natural for creating the interior design for the house.
“What I loved about the home was that the house itself was elegant,” Beach said. “The large-scaled rooms, Venetian plaster and black stained floors cried out for a more formal, restrained décor. The house was large enough that the rooms did not have to do ‘double duty.’ It has a large living and dining area for entertaining, but also a smaller den and adjacent sunroom for day-to-day living. In the end, I wanted to create a place that respected the history of the house but was more relevant for how we live today.”
The house offers three bedrooms in approximately 4,200 square feet. Hunt turned a former bedroom into the primary bath in 2011, creating six bathrooms. Beach plans to turn a bathroom adjacent to the primary bedroom into a large closet serving the primary suite.
Because the previous owner had already added a primary bath and updated the home’s systems, Perez said, “We only made cosmetic changes like paint and wallpaper inside the house.”
The kitchen and flow of the house work well for entertaining, and the couple looks forward to hosting. “We have family and friends all the time coming over for drinks or dinner,” Beach said.
Beach’s favorite room — the dining room — features blue Schumacher wallpaper. “I’ve always loved this paper, particularly the birds, and I thought that the dining room was the perfect room for it,” he said.
Home Pros Used:
Décor/Furnishings: Baker; Century; Councill; EJ Victor; Hickory Chair; Highland House; Milling Road; Theodore Alexander; The Upholstery Studio
Designer/Interior Decorator: Brad Beach
Drapes/Fabrics: Fabricut; Stroheim; Charles Faudree for Vervain
Electronics/Electrician/Wiring/Alarm System: Lockman Consulting
Landscaping/Lawn Care: DK Design
Lighting: Hudson Valley Lighting Group; Visual Comfort; Theodore Alexander
Wallpaper: Scalamandre chinoiserie mural; Thibaut
Windows: NWA Window Decor, Inc.
Beach’s experience perfectly fits a design business. “Product development, project management and design all have the same skill base,” Beach said. “So much of design is project management and having the right painter, right electrician, right wallpaper person and right upholsterer. I’ve lived here a long time and know the best people in town to get it done.”
With his beautiful home as an example, he’s sure to be successful.
Shortly after buying the house, a dear friend of Beach’s passed away. “(He) kept a notebook. When people would comment on something of his, he’d write it in the notebook,” Beach said. “So, I got a call after he passed away that said, ‘Mr. Melton left you a few things.’ He left me these animal print chairs, the panels on either side of the TV that I always loved.”
Beach took care to incorporate the pieces into the home.
The couple’s current project is re-doing the outdoor space around the house. “Landscaping is always such a long process,” Beach said. “What I’m focusing on now is getting the foundation right. We took out probably 75% of the front yard, which was full of trees. I trimmed down the trees so you could see the house because I think the house is so beautiful.”
The backyard features an outdoor kitchen, a covered patio and an outdoor fireplace that is original to the house — all perfect for spring and summer entertaining.
For his next phase of life, Beach plans to start a design and decorating business. He said he enjoys creating beautiful and timeless interiors that embody an indoor/outdoor lifestyle.
“I love a beautiful room with lots of layers and textures,” Beach said. “Comfort is key, and I believe in buying good upholstery. In fact, most of the chairs and sofas in our house have been upholstered several times. I think that’s the definition of successful decorating — being so sure of your choices that you continue to love them year after year. I have always used color and multiple patterns to pull a room together. It is all in the details — like a trim on a pillow that makes you want to sit and stay awhile.”