Let the Games Begin!

Written April 23, 2012


It’s official! The purchase papers have been signed and the building permits are in place. As of April 10, 2012 we are the proud owners of a 110-year-old historic home in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. We were a little giddy pulling the keys from our own pocket and unlocking the doors for the first time. The past several months have been spent contemplating this endeavor, researching restoration costs, seeking experts to guide us, and discussing options with the bank. Each visit to the house was with the intention of sorting something out. This first visit as owners, however, was different. It was quiet. There wasn’t anything to decide this time around and so we just walked around in silence, grinning at each other, saying, “We did it.” And “She’s ours.” And all three of us, house included, breathed a sigh of relief.

And then…AND THEN…the serenity of that special moment passed and the work began. You know that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney World that goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds while Aerosmith blasts in your ears? You can’t breathe during it and only when it stops can you look at your neighbor and say, “Holy cow! That was awesome!!” Well that’s been the last four days of our lives. We were so eager to get on this ride, couldn’t wait for acceleration, thought we knew what was ahead. I mean, we’ve been on rides before, right? We know they’re fast. Get on with it already.

But this roller coaster was different. The G-force was remarkable. Walls came down, pipes were pulled out, plans carefully laid out needed quick changes because, as it turns out, there are lots of surprises behind the plaster and beams of an old home. Yesterday was the first time Joel and I could actually discuss the experience rather than just quickly confer on the needed decisions and scheduling. (Joel was out of town on business and so much of the info was shared in five-minute intervals when he could sneak away to get an earful of updates.) He said that when he got back home and pulled up for the first time to see several contractors’ vehicles parked around the house, he actually had to sit in his car for a minute to catch his breath thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m in charge of all of this.” I admitted to the exact same reaction the first day of deconstruction when I witnessed a kitchen wall come crashing to the ground with one hefty yank of a supporting beam. Catch a small glimpse via this video taken spur of the moment with my phone camera.

It was indeed awesome!!!

(BTW…we’re acting as our own general contractors which means we hire and supervise the host of sub-contractors involved. The learning curve is very steep so what that REALLY means is that we’re totally in awe of their skills in their respective crafts and when they honestly do need our input, we call upon our expert guides, Tom Cain and Bernie Gump, to help us. Good resources cannot be overrated.)

I almost cried, but only once. I don’t even remember when it was. I just have a vague recollection of being completely overwhelmed for a minute and then I had to hurry and answer a call or send an email and forgot about it.

Here are a few exterior photos to give you a glimpse of our new beauty. Interior photos soon to follow.

The front view (picture the original wrap-around porch added someday)…

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The east side…

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Close-up of the east side main porch (that door opens to the kitchen area)…

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Back view from the alley (that’s an attached garage that will eventually be opened back up again)…

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And the west side, again from the alley view.

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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