Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Follow-up from the April 2012 Break-in

After a couple of good night’s sleep, things are looking up. We do appreciate all the good vibes and words of encouragement. We know we are attempting to do something very worthwhile and my little pity party is now over.

Ron has, once again, worked his magic and we do have some electric circuits repaired. It will take some time to get all the circuits back on but the alarms have juice. He and Amanda met with the alarm company last week. After some analysis, we became aware of several vunerabilities that are now covered. We’ve added a number of new alarm sensors and are very comfortable with the new coverage. We’ll also be having someone staying at the house full time. Also we’re looking into what needs to be done to get the outside lighting installed soon. We are confident, but continue praying, that these steps will be enough to prevent further damage.

We’ve alerted the company that manages the rental house next door. It appears they may have been targeted too since they have missing basement window glass. Everyone in the neighborhood needs to ensure that they have checked the security of all their windows and doors, especially in the basement.  And make sure you’re exterior air conditioning units are protected. They aren’t just targeting empty houses, out in Franklin Township, they are targeting homes while people are at work.

Since we have to redo so much of the electrical system now, we’re taking a closer look at all the remaining existing wiring. Due to the number of things we’ve found that had questionable repairs, we want to ensure that there are no wiring issues. If anything needs to be replaced, we may as well do it now. We’re viewing the current setback as an opportunity to slow down & make sure we get all the electric & plumbing updated and installed correctly.

Ron’s busy getting lists compiled for the materials we’ll need to purchase to get the water back on and the rest of the electric circuits repaired. We’re hoping to be back working on the bungalow  next week. Again, thanks to everyone for your sympathy and sticking with us on our adventure.

If Indiana Landmarks can change this –

To this –

That reassures our hopes we can make the bungalow look loved and cared for once again.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rain Drops on Roses…

It has been just a little over a year since we first found out that the boarded up Addams Family-looking house on Emerson really was for sale. In the ensuing months our lives have been turned upside down, sideways, and back upright more times than I can count. It’s been quite a trip. One I wouldn’t exchange for anything.

Because of everything that has happened, especially this latest break in, I’ve spent a bit of time just sitting back and taking stock. And it’s funny, but the thing that stands out the most to me is just how grateful I should be. In the last year we have met so many wonderful people I can’t name them all. People that we will be working with like Chad Lethig at Indiana Landmarks, Bill Zeller of Zeller Construction, and Bob Ladisich of IC Design Services, LLC. (Of course we already knew Bob, but not in the role of “our structural engineer”.) There are so many other people, in the neighborhood, in the preservation community, in the historical community, owners of other historic properties… The list goes on and on. So many people, so many of you, who have been talking and working with us, given us advice, support, and encouragement.

We all far outweigh those who chose to create fear and havoc, who chose to take and destroy what others build. We are the ones who build, we create, and we love. That’s what’s important.

So tonight, I want to say Thank You. To everyone who has been a part of our project. This is our Dream. And I am grateful that so many new people have come into my life. I am grateful for the support that we have received from so many. I am grateful for my amazingly crazy husband and parents who not only run a business with me, but have taken on this project too. I am grateful for the rest of my family and friends that have offered help, encouragement, and excitement.

Tonight, I am grateful. I am Blessed to have so many opportunities before me. Thank you for joining us on this journey. May your lives be as Blessed as mine is.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Work on Bungalow – April 2012 – Part 2

The work on the cold water has been successful! Everything on the cold water side  is ok to the valves in the bathrooms and kitchen. Except for a possible small drip above the dining room ceiling. Ron still has to determine if this is still leaking.

The attachment to the outside faucet will need to be addressed later. There is still a 2-3 inch gap in the pipes. And remember this is cold water only. The water to the hot water heater has not been addressed. We’re pretty sure that the hot water heater will need to be replaced and some of the pipes are likely broken on that side, too. But for now, WE HAVE WATER! Next, Ron will be doing some demolition in the main story bathroom so he can install the new toilet & sink.

OK. That was the beginning of the next blog that I had already written in preparation for posting today. And then, Ron went to the property on Sunday to mow the lawns and found the front door of the bungalow standing open. We have yet another break-in and this time the damage is so much worse.

We’re still not sure how they got in but the thieves managed to cut the alarm wires so that we were not notified. Then they proceeded to remove ALL the copper wiring in the basement. They just cut the wires off as they left the fuse box. Then they either snipped them off at the other end or pulled the full length of it out. It will take a lot of time to determine where new wiring needs to be ran. This is such an awful mess now.

 They also removed all the copper water pipes in the basement. Luckily, Ron had turned off the water at the main before leaving on Friday, just in case he had missed any small water leaks. New water pipes will need to be installed everywhere and attached to the stubs they left.

Sorry there are no pictures in this blog but it's hard to take them in absolute darkness. Hopefully, by time we post again, we'll at least have enough light to take some pictures.

And to add insult to injury, they even ran over the end of the downspout Ron installed to dry out the basement. Now that needs to be replaced, too.

The police report has been filed and arrangements made for security services at the house until we can get the electric to the alarms fixed. We need to re-evaluate the security/alarm setup we had installed and determine what all is needed to ensure we're alerted next time. It is so frustrating that we thought we were covered by the alarm system but they found a way in and destroyed so much.

We also need to adjust our project plan and make some major revisions to the overall timeline. And of course, this is a major blow to the budget and funds we’re working with. As we’ve said before, we don’t just have a couple hundred thousand dollars waiting around to be spent. (Estimated damage is $7,000 - $10,000 of damage/loss since they also took some of Ron's tools.) 

Normally, I’m not easily discouraged, however, this break-in has hit me hard. All that Ron accomplished over the past month has been destroyed and more. He’s estimated the damage will set him back hundreds of hours worth of work. Why do people do this? We’re just average people trying to save a couple wonderful old homes and hopefully help the neighborhood.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bungalow History – Part 1

I think it was during our 3rd meeting with Indiana Landmarks to discuss purchasing the Horner House  that we were told the bungalow next door was also part of the property. Because the Second Empire is sooo very impressive, we hadn’t really even noticed the bungalow.

This information added a whole new twist to the idea of purchasing the Horner House. We had acknowledged that it would be difficult for Amanda & Eric to live in Beech Grove & still keep an eye on the house while it was being restored. Now it became possible to live next door. But this wasn’t all positive.

While the bungalow is in much better condition than the Horner House, it wasn’t in exactly move in condition. And working on the bungalow was going to cause the work on the Horner House to be slower than we wanted. But it did make sense to live next door. Then Amanda thought of the possibility of moving the business to the bungalow, too. The thought of having my family room back (where the business currently resides) was just too good to pass up. Since the closing last summer, the first goal was to get the West Wing stabilized - check. The second goal has been to get “the kids” moved into the bungalow. Of course that was before Eric broke his ankle, Amanda hurt her knee, ya da, ya da, ya da…

The bungalow is an historic building, too. It is not considered an outstanding example because there are many, many early 1900’s bungalows in Indianapolis. The east side is full of them. My parents lived in one for 35 years. But just because it’s not unique doesn’t mean it has no redeeming features. The added on parts of the house, enclosed front porch & back room with bathroom - not so much. While we will fix those up now, it would be nice to remove them or replace them with something more in keeping with the age and style of the bungalow.

The best features of the house are on the main floor. These pictures don’t really do it justice. There is a large entry or foyer, filled with original woodwork and hardwood floors. They are in fair condition. And there is a lovely stairway that is in fair condition. Other than repairs, we’ll not be restoring them until after the Horner House has been completed. 
                                                                   Front door with side lights in entryway.

The stairs are opposite the front door. Unfortunately, there is also an acoustic tile ceiling which is likely covering up a damaged plaster ceiling. To the right, there is a wide entry into the living room. It is flanked by two short walls which have wooden pillars - very classical for this type of bungalow. As you can see, we do have a lot of boxes and supplies waiting to be installed.

                                                       Stairway and columned opening into the Living Room.

The columns are repeated from the living room into the dining room. There is one wooden panel missing from below the columns but otherwise they are in pretty good condition.

                                                       View from the living room into the dining room. 

This is the best of the bungalow. The upstairs, while true to an early 1900’s bungalow, has no outstanding details. We'll be showing you more about the work being done, the setup/layout/condition and the history. We'll also continue to highlight the work done on Toad Hall. Stay tuned for more to come!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Work on Bungalow – April 2012 - Part 1

Work on the bungalow is in progress, however, it is going more slowly than we’d like. Last fall, after working on the wiring & fuse box, we did get the electric turned back on. It has helped tremendously to have lights so we can actually see what we’re doing, especially since we still have several windows covered with plywood. Ron has identified the switches, sockets and fixtures that will need to be replaced. That will be a lot of work all by itself.  

The bungalow that shares the property with Toad Hall.

For about a week, Ron has been working on getting the gas & water turned back on. The gas won’t be too important until this fall when they need heat. The gas company came out and they turned on the gas. They checked for leaks and it passed! We will be waiting until closer to fall to check out the furnaces, there are two. We know the outside central air unit has disappeared so we will need to work on that fairly soon. We’re hopeful that there won’t be too much to do except replace the outside unit.

The water, however, is being more tricky. We knew that the house was not winterized when the previous owner left. We also knew that the sinks, toilets, etc. need to be replaced because it’s evident that there are broken pipes - everywhere.

Ron spent several days replacing the main water shut off valve just in case there were issues when the water company resumed water service. That turned out to be a very good decision. After the water was turned on, they opened the valve to see what would happen. There was a veritable waterfall from the dining room ceiling. The original plaster & lath ceiling is still somewhat intact, however, an acoustic ceiling has been added below it. This made it even more difficult to try to find the source of the water. Not to mention that sopping up the water from the  hardwood floors just adds to the time it takes to get things fixed.

    Dining room ceiling with the acoustic tiles, some plaster & lath removed.

Ron removed the acoustic tiles and tried to identify where the water was coming from. He had to remove part of the plaster & lath but he found what he thought was the source of the leak in the space between the upstairs bedroom floor & the dining room ceiling. He spent several hours fixing the hole in the pipe and then turned the water main back on.  Unfortunately, there was another leak and then another.

The white plastic patch on the water pipe over the dining room.

The largest was in the wall behind the upstairs tub. It required cutting through the wall in the bathroom cabinet to get to the pipes.

 The white patch (on the left) in the closet behind the upstairs bathtub.

So for now, we have water to the valves in the kitchen for the sink – with no leaking. We have water to the upstairs bathroom valves, however, there is still some dripping that will need to be addressed. But the main floor bathroom, that is our primary focus, still has at least 1 large leak.

While writing this blog, I realized that, although we’ve mentioned the bungalow, we haven’t really written much about it. Over the next several weeks, we’ll write some more about it (with lots of pictures) and give you some historical information on it. While it’s nothing like the history of Toad Hall, it has had quite an interesting history of its own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Abstract & Title Part 4

It’s been months since I wrote anything on the history and specifically the abstract of the Horner House.  We had stopped the story in 1891 with James L Thompson, a County Commissioner, and his wife, Nancy, living in the house.

We’ll start up again on November 22, 1891, when James & Nancy sell the house to Joseph H. Jordan. This is all that is actually on the abstract. But I couldn’t help wondering, who was Joseph? Was he married? Did he have children? So I had to hop onto since I didn’t have time to make a trip to the State Library. Someday when I’m retired, I hope to have time to do a more in-depth search on each of the former owners. At that time, perhaps we’ll be able to find some pictures of either the house or the people who have lived there. Until then, I’ll have to be satisfied with what I can find easily, the low hanging fruit so to speak.

I did find some interesting information on Joseph. On February 14, 1878, he married Jennie H. Allen in Parke County, Indiana. According to the 1880 Census, Joseph, Jennie, and their 1 year old son Allan were living in Adams Township, Parke County. Joseph was a farmer and his 22 year old brother was living with them as a laborer. They even had a servant.

In another marriage record, we found that Joseph married Victoria M. Ott on October 6, 1886 in Parke Co, Indiana. Joseph purchased the house in 1891 and when he sold the house, his wife Victoria M also signed the documents. So we can assume that we've found the correct Joseph. Approximately 5 years after they marry, Joseph and Victoria move into the Horner House. This leaves me with a lot of questions about what happened to Jennie. And why would Joseph move to Irvington if he's a farmer?

There is no 1890 census for Indiana which leads to a lot of walls when doing genealogy. Here, it would have been very helpful to have a census entry a year before they purchased the house. But we’ll need to fast forward to the 1900 census, approximately 7 years after they sell the house.

In the 1900 Census, we found Joseph, 49 years old, as a farmer in Perry Township, Marion County, Indiana. He’s living with his 39 year old wife, Victoria, and the record shows she’s had 4 children and all 4 are still living. The children are listed as Hubert R (18), Genevieve P (16), Hazel S (12), Raymond B (9), Rufus K (5) and Mary C (2). They also 2 boarders, Joseph Bell (22) a farm laborer and John Bell (4).

I concluded that Joseph & Jennie must have had Hubert & Genevieve. They are listed as Joseph’s son & daughter and Victoria had the last 4 children. To gather some additional unproven data, I looked at several family trees for Joseph H. Jordan. It appeared that his first son, Allan died in 1881. And Jennie died in 1885, the year after Genevieve was born.

They purchased the house in 1891 after Richard was born and sold it in 1893 before Rufus was born. They also went from living in the city to living in Perry Township which was mostly rural in the late 1890’s. It would be interesting to find out what business Joseph was working in during the time they lived in the Horner House.

While I was digging up this information, I found a direct descendent of Joseph Jordan on Ancestry. We’re hoping his family will find the information on his family’s wonderful house as fascinating as we do. Maybe we’ll even get a chance to share information.

And then on November 22, 1893 Joseph H. & Victoria M sell the house to James M Risley. Since this is already so long, I’m going to save Mr. Risley’s story until next time.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

End of March 2012

If the third time is the charm, you’ll be reading this blog. For some reason, my computer decided to save my first 2 drafts in an unrecognizable format.

We want to thank everyone who responded to our fireplace blogs. Amanda has a strong lead on a company that can help us identify the time period the tiles were made. They may even be able to direct us to a company that can provide matching replacements. Now we just need to find a loose tile so we can get close up pictures of the front and back to send to them. More information to come.

We’ve spoken about the 1920’s bungalow that also sits on the Horner House property. This house has also been vacant for quite some time. Our plans are to concentrate on getting it habitable over the next few months. Amanda & Eric will then move into it and sell their current home. The business will also move into the bungalow and when the Horner House is habitable, the business will take over the bungalow entirely.

So we’ve spent some time this month beginning to do some minor repairs. Ron’s been trying to determine whether the water can be turned on without flooding the building. He’s also been trying to determine why the basement is so wet. With some of the recent rains, he thinks it may be due to a missing piece on a downspout. It appears the water is running directly down soaking the ground next to the foundation. This has been repaired and will evaluated during the next heavy rain.

We've also repaired several windows in the bungalow, as well as repairing the transom in the Horner House. Hopefully that will help prevent any more break-ins.

Business has been booming with all this unseasonable weather. We’ve hired another field person with the hopes that Ron will have several days a week to do some additional work on the bungalow. The more money we make, the faster our restoration work will go!

And speaking of money, does anyone out there have any experience with Grant writing? Volunteers to assist with this would be greatly appreciated. We’re hoping we might be able to get a little additional funding if we can get proposals out there soon.

And finally, an update on the new puppy that Amanda & Eric picked up last month. He looks like he’s grown a foot already. He loves chasing sticks & chewing on them. Now we just need to teach him to bring them back instead of running away & loosing them. He has found one of the many rabbit holes in the yard and it’s one of his favorite things. He’s pretty sure if he stares down it long enough or digs deep enough, it will give up something wonderful.


Most importantly, however, he makes us laugh. With to do lists that are a mile long, laughter helps to keep all the pressures in perspective.