The End is Always a Beginning (1980s Renovation Post 4)

I have just a few more pictures to share of the exterior restoration of the house during the 1980s, and then I’ll probably have one more post to show you the pictures I have of the interior. I feel so lucky to have this history in my hands, and to be invited into someone’s stories, after being curious for so long…..

This is the side entrance, to the apartments on the second floor. It was a smart move, whoever turned the place into apartments – they just took the servant stairwell straight outside! It makes perfect sense. When the Beidlers bought the home, they kept the tenants upstairs for income to help with the restoration. Which, really, is such an attractive idea, until blocked toilets overflow into your kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, or a tenant decides to go roller skating, and puts on her skates upstairs, before tumbling down the servant stairs. Both true stories from when the Beidlers lived here. After the toilet incident, that was enough! No more apartments!

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Here is Mike, baby Larson, and yappy-dog Jasper closing up the entrance to the servant stairwell. The rubbled remains of the stoop are visible. The window behind Mike’s head is the window of what is now the Butler’s Pantry.

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Paint colors went up – 5 colors total on the house, from a historic paint palette at Sherwin Williams that Karen selected.

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The porch roof, and main roof repairs, were done with a good grade of smaller slate that was reclaimed off a house in Indianapolis’ Old Northside Neighborhood. And, when the slate roof failed prior to our purchase – the porch did NOT have to be replaced or repaired. This was a lasting job with that old slate! Many of the pieces had to be cut, including the west end that was curved – they all had to be pie cut.

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In 1986, the roof began leaking (a never-ending saga for this house). Mike said it was “time to give up temporary band-aids and get serious.” The issue was the chimney – bricks falling off, flashing issues, and 20 years of band-aids…. it was a mess.

I mean, a mess. Here are the rotted roof deck boards.

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Chris Hext – remember this guy from the last post?

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Well, his father was a retired Brickmason who lived in England. Mike met him when he came to America to visit Chris once. He looked at pictures of the chimney, and decided it hadn’t been put together properly to begin with. Seriously – this is the most amazing version of “I know a guy who knows a guy….” Using pictures and measurements, Mr. Hext sent Mike detailed drawings and instructions on how to rebuild. Keep in mind – no internet. You can’t just send an email for help when you get into trouble. That’s what continually blows me away about all of this. It’s the restoration version of, “I had to walk uphill 20 miles through 8 feet of snow to get to school.” And it’s TRUE. This level of dedication and trust – I marvel at it. And it makes me feel like we have gotten off the hook SO easily with what we are doing.

The chimney was stuccoed. On the outside. So weird. This was someone’s idea of holding the chimney together. EGADS.

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You can see the cracks and disrepair a LOT better in this picture. And you can see the next-door-neighbors lovely chimney at the bottom.

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Mike dismantled it down, brick by brick into the attic. Here’s a view from the attic.

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Mr. Hext detailed everything for him, including installing lead flashing with a cricket. The new plans called for a slightly taller chimney with elaborate corbels…. but the scaffolding ran out. Mike has 2 x 12 walkboards on the very top supports, with plastic milk crates on top and more walkboards on them. Keep in mind – this house is scandalously tall. I’m worried about him doing this, and it’s 30 years since he did it safely! So, the taller chimney didn’t happen. The chimney is exactly as tall as Mike could reach, standing on top of those milk crates. He reused the bricks – but the stucco wouldn’t come clean. The solution? He flipped them around, so now, we know the inside of the top of our chimney is stucco.

Also, some roof repairs needed to be done – these were NOT leaking, which, as Mike says, speaks volumes about the house’s maintenance history.

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Karen, working on the roof & chimney scaffolding. What a labor of love.

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And, thus ends the pictorial journey of the exterior that the Beidlers shared with us (and then, with all of you). I probably have one more post of interior projects! We’re just so thankful for all of these pictures, and memories.

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As is with most researching, what you think might be the end, is actually just the beginning of a different journey. I have some more to share from a historical context, though I’m not sure that any of you are as wildly interested in this as I am – so if you aren’t, I’m sorry! If you remember, I stumbled upon a trove of old pictures of the Bryant Family online, some of which show the neighborhood and our house, and I was looking for the owner. I kept digging and looking and researching, and I found the original poster. It was actually one of Roy C. Bryant’s grandsons, Tony Bryant. When we found the pictures, we thought for a split second that MAYBE Tony was the owner of the pictures, but we thought he would have been too young to be the poster (we were wrong; it was him). I never met Tony, but Doug did, once when he stopped by to introduce himself and see the house. Tony wasn’t very old at all, and I thought I’d have all the time in the world to meet him. I have met his cousin, Jim, several times, and he is a pure delight. The last time we saw Jim, we were saddened to hear that Tony had passed away. As I looked through the pictures that Tony had posted years earlier, I managed to find some more, and by sleuthing on, I can give you a quick rundown of a few more puzzle pieces of the family, almost all who ended up working with Central L&M Lumber and Building in Franklin, Indiana.

Tony’s Parents, Robert and Margaret Bryant.

They are just dashing.

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Here are Margaret and Robert, on a porch swing on our porch! If you can look past the canoodling, note the railing and the awning.

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Robert’s parents were

Roy Cullen Bryant, and Lola Green Bryant.

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Lola had a sister named

Edith Green

who also lived in our house.

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Here’s a newly-found picture of Edith on the front porch. That mailbox!

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Lola and Edith’s (and their sibling’s) parents were

James and Mary Matilda Herad Green.

Here is James and Mary and their brood….

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…. and a few years earlier, with a smaller brood. They were married on October 9, 1879.

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James was one of ten children – Julia, William, Lettie, Cornelius, Sanford, James, Richard, Andrew, Harvey, and Alice.

Their parents were

William and Indiana Green

I love that her name was Indiana. Love it. They were born in the 1820s, and here is a picture of them.

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By my completely guessing detective work, this tin daguerreotype is from the 1840s.

And, if you’ve read this far, then you must REALLY be interested in history, and you should look at this amazing tumblr that I found while researching daguerreotypes. Think of it as your reward for reading this far. This wins the internet today for me, and it will for you, too (especially my friend Cyndi, who will adore this).

Completed Exterior

1980s Restoration

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  1. I just love the history! Thanks so much for sharing, I know how much time it takes to write all of this up!

  2. I would’ve never guessed that’s what the porch railing looked like! You are uncovering all kinds of gems!

  3. That picture of porch canoodling! I love it so much. If it were me, I’d blow that baby up and display it proudly! What a great shot.

    1. I definitely want to get a lot of these framed – I need to figure out what I want to do with them! But I totally agree: it’s a beautiful shot. And her pants!

  4. I am fascinated by the history your are discovering and sharing! My maternal grandmother Lora Etheleen (Coy) Voris was born in 1908 and raised in a community called Kansas, in what is now Camp Atterbury. In the late 1920’s she lived with the Vandivier family in a large beautiful home in Franklin, as a housekeeper, cook, and nanny for their son Tommy. She shared many fond memories of the Vandivier’s and the guests that they entertained in their home such as notable visitors to Franklin Collage, and she even struck up a friendship with the wife of an Indiana governor! After she left the service of the Vandivier’s , she worked in “the garment factory” in Franklin for a number of years, sewing shirt collars on shirts. Though I may have some of the story wrong, I believe that the Vandivier family was responsible for moving an old schoolhouse that was somewhere near SR135 and SR44 and relocating it to the Webb Elementary school grounds where it was restored and is used to this day. I’d like to think that perhaps she knew the people or maybe was even a visitor in the Murray-Bryant home back in the early 30’s!….Who knows? 🙂 Looking forward to your next story!

  5. This whole series (The Past Revealed!) has been a delight and thrill! I have enjoyed it tremendously! I am also excited for you and your husband, as I can fully appreciate how incredibly exciting these astounding discoveries have been!

  6. Reading about your discoveries about the history of your home bring tears to my eyes AND IT’S NOT EVEN MY HOUSE! Love, love all of this…especially the daguerreotype tumblr 😉

    1. I’m so, so glad you love it. We love sharing the story of what we’re doing because it’s so special to us, and we’re so amazed and happy when others share that feeling. You’ve totally made my day!

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