Photo by Sara Essex Bradley.

Cardinal rules: Kay Morgan sets a formal table against a ruby backdrop

It’s not easy to find 14 matching chairs to fit around an extra-long antique table. That’s why when Kay and T.C. Morgan saw that just such a set would be auctioned off in Bay St. Louis, they left their then-young children with T.C.’s parents and hit the road.

Kay and T.C. were the successful bidders on those 19th-century chairs—made of walnut and featuring interchangeable “summer seats” of cane and upholstered seats for winter—and promptly paired them with the table they had purchased at the old Womack’s Antiques on Convention Street.

The chairs would prove even more perfect for their new owners when the Morgans purchased the historic “Lobdell House” on Old Hammond Highway in 1998. Though there had been additions over the years, the original structure was built in 1870 and was once part of Goodwood Plantation. What better to adorn the family’s new and generously sized dining room—built in an era when lavish entertaining was the norm—than their period-perfect dining table and those auction-find chairs?

These days, the couple carries on the home’s history of hospitality by hosting gatherings of friends and family often. The holidays are an especially entertaining-focused time of year here, as the Morgans have hosted the annual Christmas party of the La Tertulia study club, of which Kay is a member, several times.

“I’m one of the few of my friends that still fully decorates for Christmas,” she says. “I do the whole thing, because I love it. I love decorating.”

Kay and her sister, who lives a block away, take turns hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for their extended families. For those feasts, additional tables are set in the den and even on the back porch. “You never know how many will be here,” she says. “It can be a lot.”

But these old dining chairs are most often occupied by “the kids”—Kay and T.C.’s two grown children, their spouses, and seven grandchildren. “I try to have them over most Sundays, with the table all set,” Kay says. “They’re all in Baton Rouge, and they’re all really close.”

On those occasions—when Kay and T.C. take their places at the table’s ends in armchairs marked underneath with the words “Papa” and “Mama”—the menu often features dishes that one of the children requested. That could mean cannelloni crepes, breaded steaks, beef tenderloin, or something that reflects Kay’s Lebanese heritage. T.C. usually does the cooking for these big meals.

“I have cooked for so many years,” Kay says with a laugh, “that if I never have to cook again, that’ll be fine.”

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