In 1997, Maryann and Bobby Bruno decided to change their address. In a move that surprised more than a few people, they left St. Charles Avenue and the traditional New Orleans lifestyle it embodied and landed in what was, at that time, the middle of the woods outside of Covington. Thirty-five acres of property that included a classically beautiful home, a pond, plus an airstrip and a hangar.
The couple enrolled their boys in Christ Episcopal School, and their girls attended St. Scholastica Academy. The airstrip is still available for small planes, but early on they converted the hangar into an indoor batting cage and infield for baseball practice. With a feature like this, the home quickly became a hub for the many friends and acquaintances of their children. With the mix of schools even in the family and a shared love of sports, the Bruno home became known as the place where everyone was welcome, no matter which school they attended, public or private, local or not. “Maryann was the Kool-Aid mom,” says Bobby of his wife. “All the kids knew her, and they all knew they were welcome here. On the southshore the schools never really mixed, but here we had kids from all over. It was so much fun.”
There is obvious joy in both their voices when they discuss the memories of that time in their lives, when the house and the hangar were full of young people. Over a dozen now-professional baseball players trained in the hangar space, able to come and go as they pleased at any time of the day or night. Major leaguer Chad Gaudin signed the wall with an inscription noting that this was the location where he learned to throw his famous slider that helped his team win the 2009 World Series.
“Every person was able to have their dream in this house,” Bobby says. The couple added a tennis court for playing together and they loved to fish in the front pond as well as spend time by the pool. Having the family together is something that comes naturally to Bobby, who referenced his own youth spent with cousins in his grandfather’s fine cabinetry workshop. “They put us boys in there to keep us out of trouble,” he chuckles. With that history, quality woods and handmade furniture are meaningful to him and show up throughout the home in the wide-plank wood floors and artisan quality furnishings.
Even the art collection housed within the home was a source of joy for the family. An addition designed by architect George Hopkins created expansive walls with wonderful lighting for showcasing treasured pieces, ranging from Louisiana artists Robert Cook and George Schmidt to large-scale contemporary photography. Light, neutral walls and crisp white trim give a gallery-style feel to the spacious, open main rooms downstairs, which are furnished with a mix of traditional and contemporary selections.
With its deep, brick-floor porches and patio spaces, the traditional front of the home gives way to a more contemporary rear facade that plays with light and shadow to create geometric shapes along the walls. With its bountiful peaceful surroundings, pausing in front of any of the windows in the house provides a view better than the last. Marble floors and striking chandeliers create glamourous spaces within the framework of the tall ceilings and prolific garden scenery. Across the property, there are multiple spaces to sit and enjoy the beautiful landscaping, making it an incredible place for entertaining both large and small crowds. From wedding receptions to school fundraisers, the Brunos delight in hosting groups of people and help contribute to organizations they continuously support. Now that they are empty nesters, it’s time to downsize to a home that is better suited to just the two of them with their dogs, but this very special place will always hold a piece of their hearts.