Orchids embellish a splendid 1891 Victorian home for a joint fundraising event

Cross the threshold into Diane and Mike Lo Ré’s lovingly restored Queen Anne-style Victorian home, built for industrialist George A. Rollins in Nashua in 1891, and you will walk back in time.The Lo Rés bought the home in 1992 (it was love at first sight) and have since been restoring it back to its original artistry and architectural splendor-with a grand winding staircase, stained-glass windows as well as beautiful woodwork and antique furnishings. The three-story, four-thousand-square-foot home has four bedrooms and three and a half baths-lots of space for family and, occasionally, special events.In fact, a joint fundraising home tour between the New Hampshire Orchid Society and the Nashua Symphony Orchestra and Chorus last yearwas a perfect match for the Lo Rés: a couple who love the symphony and a home that is of the orchids’ period.”The Victorian era is really the birth of orchids’ cultivation,” says Jean Hallstone of the New Hampshire Orchid Society. “It was the Victorians who could afford orchids. They were traveling the world and traveling in jungles, and they started to bring the plants back.” Orchid cultivation bloomed during the late 1800s, which Hallstone credits as the reason people can now go to a Home Depot and purchase an orchid.”The orchid became accessible for people to use as décor in their homes,” she says, adding many of those Victorian homes had greenhouses and conservatories for growing plants.((sub-head)) Coming togetherDiane explains that when she and Mike were looking to move from their home in Litchfield in the early 1990s, the George A. Rollins Housewas the first one they toured.”This is the first house we looked at,” she says. Mike also had a strong reaction, telling Diane:”I love it; I want it!” They drove to the Seacoast to “clear their heads,” then made an offer on the house the same night.The home needed quite a bit of work, but Diane and Mike had the expertise and the patience to do much of the renovation themselves-although they called in help for the large projects. The Lo Rés gutted the 1950s style kitchen and, with help from Sue Booth of Vintage Kitchens in Concord, designed a space that was both functional and in keeping with the historic style of the home.For the holiday open house, designers Thom Glynn and Karen Dzendolet of Eye Catching Interiorsdecorated the home with orchid displays coordinated by Hallstone. New Hampshire Orchid Society members donated more than twenty plants, representing between eight and ten varieties of orchids, including the slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum), which are related to the New Hampshire State Wildflower, the Pink Lady Slipper Cypripedium acaule.”This is a great opportunity for us,” Hallstone says, adding the event raises awareness of orchids and their cultivation. The partnership with the Nashua Symphony Orchestra began five years ago, after the New Hampshire Orchid Society held what turned out to be a very popular house tour themed “A Symphony of Orchids.” Since then, the joint house tour attracts about 2,500 visitors.”We have this following, and we’re delighted to do it to help the symphony,” Hallstone says.In all, Diane describes the events as a collaborative effort. “The house presented itself in our style and character. We collaborated with the designers and made it ours. The décor was true to the Victorian period,” she says.”Orchids live in the same environment we live in,” Hallstone explains. “If you’re comfortable, they’re comfortable.”