One of the most cherished philanthropic traditions is underway in Indianapolis. The 60th annual Decorators’ Show House and Gardens is once again hosting public tours following last year’s virtual show house due to the pandemic. This year’s event is also a milestone for its founder, Dessie Partenheimer Koch.
Members of St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild, along with 25 local interior and landscape designers have donated hundreds of volunteer hours to revamp this year’s home, christened The Columns on Meridian. Built in 1929, the 8,000-square-foot residence is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The concept was created by Partenheimer Koch, now 90, when she was living in San Francisco. But in 1961, Dessie and her family made the move to Indianapolis.
“My husband’s friends from IU were married to women who were St. Margaret’s Guild and they invited me to join and they need a project and I said, ‘Well, I’ve got a great idea,” she said. “At the time, the biggest way to raise money was to have a fashion show…and then a Christmas dance. And the most you ever made for both projects combined was around $4,000.”
The Decorators’ Show House would become an immediate success in its 1962 debut, inspiring generations of Hoosier homeowners and budding designers, and raising more money than St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild could have ever imagined.
“We didn’t realize the impact that this show house could have on this community,” said Julie Dewitt with St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild. “And out of the $13.5 million that we have raised for Eskenazi Health, $12.8 have come from this show house. I think that’s pretty remarkable and it gives me chills when I think about this idea that started in 1962 and where we are today.”
Partenheimer Koch says she couldn’t imagine the event going on for 60 years when she came up with the idea.
“At my age, you kind of think of your legacy every now and then. I’m thrilled that we were able to commit enough money to Wishard Hospital, which became Eskenazi, to fund many, many things for women,” she said.
This year’s Decorators’ Show House and Gardens runs through May 9. You can find more information on the event by clicking here.