If you didn’t read my last post, start there. Now.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to best organize all the things we learned about the house from the Beidler Family, and I’m sure there’s a way I can do this better, but here goes.

First of all, Mike brought a stunning amount of documentation to our visit. Pictures, notes, details and dates on the back of each picture…. it was amazing. Considering the restoration was done in the 80s, before cell phone pictures and social media, it is astounding. To remember to have a camera each time you were up a scaffolding….. but man, there were some amazing things to document. I’m so glad he did, because I have so much to share. It’s almost like he KNEW I’d have a blog to share this on some day!

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Martin Place, 1981

Today, Martin Place is an idyllic street, straight out of Better Homes and Gardens. I mean, it’s darling. But, it didn’t used to be that way. In the 60s-80s, it was mostly rentals, and apparently, much of the residents were scoundrels and miscreants. Mike said that when they first moved there, for Halloween, they bought a big bag of candy. Now, remember, Halloween now brings over 1,000 kids each year, and is a Trick-or-Treat Hotspot in Indiana. Their first year? Not one child. When they asked neighbors why no one came – the answer? “Parents would never want to let their children on Martin Place.”

Ouch.

They lived next door to what would be our house, and Number 2. Here it is in 1981. Now, if you’ve been to our house, this is now the pink and purple house. What a change!

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They had a chance to buy Number 14, and took it.

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This – to me – was the first step in changing Martin Place from a rental street, into the picture perfect street that would soon become listed on the National Register for Historic Places. The government in Franklin, at the time, was heading in a direction of commercialization – tearing down houses and building businesses. A group of citizens, thankfully, was not okay with this, and they banded together to save the homes, the loveliness of the town, and restore the houses with the help of each other. They founded Franklin Heritage – right in my dining room. They planted trees and hauled material and built each others homes up from the point of destruction. Today, Franklin Heritage is a thriving example of community preservation, because of the early people who wanted homes instead of warehouses. Indiana Landmarks helped them along the way with the beginnings of this group.

That’s an important part of the story, and it’s interwoven throughout the timeline of the restoration of Number 14 Martin Place. Karen Beidler, who was very artistic, designed the logo for Franklin Heritage.

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If you live in Indiana, and aren’t aware of the things Indiana Landmarks does, get involved. If you are interested in historic preservation in your town, and want to see a successful model, contact Franklin Heritage. They are both AMAZING.

So, the Beidlers bought Number 14, with the hope of restoring it. In the picture below, notice the fancy brackets under the balcony – they no longer exist, but need to! I love that I have this picture now.

Historic Martin Place 11When they moved in, there were three apartments. The family moved into the downstairs apartment, which took up the entire first floor. Tenants remained in the upper two apartments – which was essential. Their rent was desperately needed to help fund the project. The apartments were on the second floor. There was nothing except room for storage on the third floor, and LOTS of places for birds to get in and out. Here is some of the roof rot that was existing under shingles :

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Mike said there were DOZENS of pigeons living and nesting in the third floor. His first monumental task in the winter of 1981-82 was to evict the Pigeons (I bet he would have let them stay if they were paying rent). It took multiple trips with a shot gun and birdshot to get rid of them. Mike had to shovel piles of bird poo from the attic – some piles that were 4 feet high, after decades of infestation. “I shoveled truckloads of it – and have the lungs to prove it,” he said.

Please forgive the crudeness of these drawings, but I wanted to show you how the second floor of the house was laid out as apartments. None of the bay windows or turret windows are in this drawing – just boring squares that are somewhat to scale(ish). Below, you can see the way the house is laid out now. There are two staircases, a grand staircase in the front, and a servant stair in the back. Also, the top is the front of the house, and the bottom, the back.

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Here’s how the second floor apartments were laid out in the 40s-80s. We’ve always been SO curious about this, and now we know. Of GIGANTIC NOTE is the fact that the grand staircase does NOT EXIST in this plan. The staircase was floored over, and was the living room of the western apartment.

Historic Martin Place 111The back stairwell was the entrance from the exterior. The hallway existed, but also was closet space. Each apartment had a kitchen, bath, and two rooms (I assume functioning as a living room and bedroom). At one time, the two bathrooms were actually one large bath, and both apartments shared that space.

YIKES.

So, we’ve always assumed that our third floor and bath figured into that, but we were not correct! The third floor wasn’t part of the equation.

The servant stairwell led directly outside, and was the access for these two apartments. Here is the entrance and stoop on the side of the house.

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The first step was to close up the entrances for the birds by replacing the rotted soffits and cornices. Because they looked like this.

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Mike and his friend / handyman carpenter David Woodrum did the work. Back then, when you had no money for restorations, you couldn’t search craigslist or salvage yards – they didn’t exist. So, if you need cheap materials, you have to look for buildings being demoed and buy them before they became trash.

This is David.

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This next bit is fun.

Here’s where I teach – Indian Creek High School. Indian Creek was created by consolidating three schools, one of them being Nineveh High School, in 1969.

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Here’s Nineveh High School (or, Nineveh School).

nineveh-school-1

If it looks vaguely familiar, that’s because it was used as the filming location for Hickory High School in the movie “Hoosiers.”

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Whenever people don’t know where I teach, I tell them that, really, a lot of my drive is like Gene Hackman’s in the opening credits of Hoosiers. It’s filmed partly in my school district, after all.

Nineveh High School housed no students from 1969 until, well, filming. And then, very sadly, it burned down. In the meantime, there was demolition happening inside. The gym in Nineveh School (which is NOT the gym in the movie), was being taken apart in 1982. Mike went over and bought the wainscoting from the gym. Guess where it went? The soffits. Here is David, underneath the 1″ thick Boxcar Siding from the Nineveh School Gym.

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Seriously. So cool. And as Mike put it, “We weren’t trying to be ‘green’ or purposely reuse things. We just needed material, and we need it cheaply.”

Historic Martin Place 30So, let’s play “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” between us, and Kevin Bacon.

1) We live in our house.

2) Our house soffits were in the Nineveh School, which was in “Hoosiers.”

Hoosiers

3) “Hoosiers” stars Gene Hackman.

4) Gene Hackman was in “The Birdcage” with Diane Wiest.

Birdcage

5) Diane Wiest was in “Footloose” with Kevin Bacon.

Footloose

Boom.

To get up to repair the soffits and cornices, they had to build their own scaffolding. When we had to rebuild a lot of this, we hired this part out. I can’t imagine building it and finding ways to reach the third story on my own. I mean, this house is TALL.

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You can see a lot of the new wood that’s been rebuilt here, including all the curved wood. You can also see evidence of scraping the siding here, as well, which was a family affair!

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The next project was rebuilding the crumbling foundation, and the rotten sillplates. For a lot of the work on the house, the Beidlers relied on knowledge of friends, or what they could learn from the pages of “Old House Journal,” each month. Doug and I learn so much of what we do by researching online. I can’t fathom how much harder it would have been without being able to immediately ask a question and get an answer online. A blessing in disguise is that when doing repairs, to save costs, they reused as much original material as possible – so bricks from 1902 went right back into the foundation!

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Rebuilding the foundation and thresholds.

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If you renovate, you need a truck. Mike bought one for $100 to be able to haul things to and from the house. It became the unofficial vehicle of Franklin Heritage, and as long as members put gas in it, they could use it for their jobs, as well.

Here’s the truck, and son Randy holding a small bottle discovered on site. In the bed of the truck are the remains of the back porch.

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I think that’s enough – for now….. Amazing, isn’t it?

8 comments

  1. Hello, again,

    I just read the first post on your page. That’s a wonderful photo of Mike and Ronni! They look well. I haven’t seen Mike in quite a while, but was in communication with him and Chris Hext during the FHI anniversary a couple of years ago.

    Keep up the good work!

    Larry

  2. Hi, Incredible post! It’s nice that Mike graciously shared so much with you. But, that’s the kind of guy he is! I got a kick out of seeing a Very young David Woodrum in some of the photos. (He built the carriage house replication to my design next door to you at #2.) Also I spotted a wee Randy Beidler in one of the shots! 🙂

    I’m glad that you are continuing to “carry the torch” for we “old” FHI-ers.

    Cheers! Larry Striebeck

    1. I knew you’d love that. I initially thought I had it in five, only because I was envisioning Gene Hackman instead of John Lithgow in Footloose. In my defense, I wrote that post mostly after midnight last night.

  3. Love this site. Amy, do you know why the Beidlers moved? Sorry if the answer is somewhere on the site. Still going through all of the old posts. Also, do you know the history between the Beidlers and when you and Doug bought it?

    Thanks,
    Joe

    1. To our knowledge, there were 3 owners and 2 foreclosures (and about 4 years of completely empty) between the Beidlers and us. I think the enormity of the house and what it needed – especially in regards to time – made it a challenge.

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