Answers, a Butchering, and a Peek Inside (1980s Restoration Part 5)

I only have one more post to share from the amazing visit we had with the Beidler Family – and we get to learn a bit about the interior of the house! We had so many greats stories and mysteries solved.

The Beidlers were not responsible for any of the murals or faux painting in the house, which was something we wondered. So, those all came about in the 1990s or 2000s. We DID get an answer to the age old question : “What’s This For?”

DSC_0366This little box is in the parlor, right near the front door. Everyone’s first thought is, “Mail? Or Milk?” We knew, based on the location and proximity to the door frame, that it was neither.


We always make everyone guess, and then open it up, where they – like us – become perplexed.


It’s the fanciest electrical box ever! Right?

Mike educated us. Back in 1902, when the house was built, electricity in homes was still in its infancy (to learn about a timeline, check this out). If homes were fancy enough to have electricity, they had one fuse, coming into the front of the house, that only operated at night – because you didn’t need electricity during the day. This box, my friends, held the original fuse (singular) box for the house. Unreal.

This was the dining room when we bought the house. To me, this room was what showed me how beautiful the house could be. It was absolutely my favorite room in the house. It also, I learned, was Karen’s favorite.



One of the most special parts of the room is the lincrusta, which I learned was NOT original, but was installed by Karen and Mike. This room was Karen’s jewel box, and the lincrusta – again, pre-internet – was found and ordered from England. Upon installation, Karen and daughter Veronica used Q-Tips to hand paint the panels.


I’ve made minimal changes to this room, because it was already perfect. We added a period-appropriate chandelier, and I painted the upper wall plum. The rest of the room will remain intact.


Off the kitchen, was an added shower – only – in the shed area. Here are the kids demolishing that area! This area would have been within the current kitchen space.

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Here’s a shot of the kitchen in 1980!

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And the upstairs bath, which, like a couple of our baths now, really functioned as a work and storage space. This is the current bathroom off the balcony bedroom.

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The current balcony bedroom was once a kitchen, and here are the remains after that kitchen was torn out.

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The middle bedroom, of what will now be the Master Bedroom, had significant water damage. These were from roof leaks, presumably by the chimney, and they were repaired, and wallpaper came down and walls fixed. Sadly, this is pretty much what we’re doing now! Let’s hope it’s for the last time!

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Here’s what makes me mad : In the 80s, none of this woodwork was painted. Today, it’s one of only a couple of rooms that have been painted white. WHY?!?!?!

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Old doorways were closed off! I think that’s an upstairs kitchen in the background!

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The hallway had been turned into closets, and Mike ripped these out to restore the original floorplan. Luckily, much of the original woodwork was intact.

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If you remember, a couple of weeks ago I was giddy to discover writing under the wallpaper of the room I’m working on now, including signatures of the Beidler Family (Except Larson. He was 10 months old. I think it’s a forgery.)


How AWESOME to be able to show Mike and Veronica this wall, and get a picture with their signatures!


I also discovered this : When Mike closed up the wall, he left an outline of the arched door, and a note explaining what happened. This was the first time that I knew that the front stairwell had been turned into a room.  Just wait for it.


Here are current pictures. That wall to the left had the arched doorway in it….


….. on the other side of that wall is the stairwell.


Here’s Randy, standing IN that stairwell room, looking back into the balcony bedroom kitchen. The front arch is the only Mike closed up, and left the note on.

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Here’s the stairwell, with the staircase floored over. You can see the bottom window casing peaking up above the floor.

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The arches came out, and the walls were put up. The family used the back stairwell all this time.

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So, where was the staircase?!?!?! GREAT question. Take a deep breath, everyone.

Let’s see where we are now. The staircase, our beautiful staircase, which was love at first sight, and caused us to buy the house.




Mike was very nervous for this part, and kept avoiding it. Which I TOTALLY understand. It was a big step. His friend and great guy Richard Harmon, who also was a restorer, showed up after work one evening, and said, “Let’s Do It.” Intimidation or not, here they come! The plan was to take the floor of the stairwell room up, and see what they had. Until then, the stairwell went to nowhere. The kids would run up it and see how far they could get before banging their head.

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Pulling up the floor over the stairwell!

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Here is where the floor joists are exposed as the floor comes out!

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Obviously, to make the floor work, the banister and spindles had to be removed. Or, butchered off. This picture is really hard for me to look at. To think that someone just chopped the bannister off….. but I guess, the flip side, is that they could have completed REMOVED it. At least this gets enough pieces to salvage and recreate, which is exactly what they did.

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Mike said, “It was not a pretty sight, but to us, it was BEAUTIFUL.” Agreed.

Yes, Richard. I probably would just be laughing at this point, too. Richard and his wife Kaylynn were original board members of Franklin Heritage, and had also restored a house here in town.

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The upper landing woodwork was all torn in half, as well. We’ve noticed that there was some color variants in the stairwell, and attributed it to someone starting to strip the stairwell, and then they stopped. Nope. It’s new versus old parts of the staircase!

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So, at this point, what do you do?

This is the part that floors me (no pun intended). They found an amateur woodworker / hobbyist to recreate the missing parts. Newelposts, Handrails, Spindles….. EVERYTHING, including matching the color and finish. For $300.

Let me say that again. The butchered stairwell – the top third of it – was recreated – for $300. 

I can’t. I don’t even understand. With inflation for 2015, it would have been $650.

Seriously. That, my friends, is the deal of a lifetime.

Before knowing this part of the story, we probably would have used some poly to try and match the sheen of the old and new. Not anymore. It’s part of the story.


The floor is gone, so are the spindles, out to be made, and the second archway is covered up.

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Good work, kids. Thank you for your work on the house.

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Mike and Ronni (and all of the Beidlers), THANK YOU. You have given us joy, memories, stories, and so much love. You have helped us to understand this house so much better and we will be better caretakers of it because of knowing you. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You.




  1. When you first wrote about the upper stairwell being turned into a room, I thought: But what happened to the upper part of the staircase????

    Question now answered! It is so amazing looking at the scary/fascinating images above!!!!!

  2. Wow. I am amazed at the incredible work that the Biedlers did on that house, and how awesome it must have been to meet with them. It’s like they were the Amy & Doug of their time. Or maybe we should say that Amy & Doug are the modern Biedlers for that house.

  3. Your house is very lucky to have the loving owners who it’s had to save it over the years. I’m so glad you have the Beidler story for your records . . . and electronic means to keep it for those who follow.

  4. Also, I was really excited to get a good look at the casings below your dining room windows and to show this to my friend whose banister was similarly damaged by the foreclosure company.

  5. wow, this is a story of true heroism. i love the internets and that the beidlers were able to find you. the optimism and stamina and hard work that went into this, the fabulous re-use of local and house-specific materials, the love and support of the community to stop the development — fantastic, god bless.

  6. Since I started reading your blog, I’ve been itching for some history on the property. This series has been so fun and fascinating to read! I’m in awe of this all. The passion that you home restorers have is so admirable. I am so glad people have saved these wonderful houses over the decades. I have zero experience in home restoration, but have a deep affinity for historical buildings so I am grateful to get to read your and Ross’ blogs!

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