Cotton, Cigars and Copy: Southern Style in the ‘Garden & Gun’ Office

Historic charm


The wood lining Ms. Wesson Darwin’s office comes from barns at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Kate Thornton for The New York Times

I bought wood from a Kentucky furniture dealer to frame the exterior and part of the interior of my office. He said it’s reclaimed from barns at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Morning and noon pick-me-ups

In the morning I have green juice from a local farmer and a banana and see my children off to school. After the gym, I’ll sip a green smoothie my husband has made and then head to work. I enjoy hosting lunch in a conference room, either for visitors or our staff. I like to get to know our employees and find out what they’re working on.

Gertie the zebra


Gertie the zebra, hunted by the socialite Gertrude Sanford Legendre.

Kate Thornton for The New York Times

We don’t normally write about big game hunting, but the zebra head, which Pierre Manigault, one of my partners, gave me, is my inspiration. It’s named after his grandmother, Gertrude “Gertie” Sanford Legendre, who bagged it. She traveled the globe collecting specimens for the American Museum of Natural History.

Southern hospitality


The well-stocked bar in Ms. Wesson Darwin’s office.

Kate Thornton for The New York Times

The bar is always well-stocked with a variety of bourbons and other spirits; many are gifts from colleagues in the business and master distillers. A few have my name etched on the bottle, and it’s fun to look back and remember who gave them to me. I entertain a lot, and we might have a happy hour or auction here for charities.

Another of Gertie’s mounts is above the bar. The resin antlers are simply decorative; they seemed to fit.

Just folks

There are portraits on the walls, but not any of my family members. The portraits are just to add a whimsical element; my family is not that aristocratic.

Practical and polished

The mirrored chests are great for storage. They’re likely British colonial, or perhaps Anglo-Indian. I had them moved from my home office and stacked them and added blue and white ginger jars on top. There aren’t many spaces where you can put chests this high. From a design perspective, it’s important to have a piece that draws one’s eye up.

Selling point

In the lobby is a 10-foot-long sidebar in front of a brick wall. When I first saw this building, I thought the wall was one of most beautiful things I’d ever seen. I knew I wanted our offices here, and we made it happen.

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