We’re Not Buying This. But, Goodness, I Want To.

We went and saw a house today.

I know what you’re thinking.

“You’re insane.”

“Amy, you’re going to end up buying this house.”

I don’t think we will, because I don’t think we can. But we did fall in love with it enough to try and get YOU to fall in love with it. Because someone, somewhere, needs to love this gem.

I’m addicted to looking at houses online (and sometimes in person). I love seeing how they work, and how people have loved them (or left them) over the years. It makes me love my house more, and I almost always find something that make my heart leap, for good or for bad. I always keep on top of what’s for sale in my town, because we have so many AMAZING houses. It’s why we moved here!

Franklin is the best. Read about it here. There’s even an interview with Doug!

So, when I saw this c. 1910 house pop up on a great location for $18K, we were intrigued. CLEARLY, there are issues with it being that price. But we needed to see it.


Here’s the listing for this damsel in distress.

It’s a foreclosed 3 bedroom, 1 bath. I asked our friends Loren and Rachel to show it to us. They are the lovely owners of our beloved Jackson Street now, and are also awesome realtors. They understand our particular breed of crazy.

The Good : CUTE exterior, siding is in mostly good shape (it’s peeling, but not rotted), sweet porch, GREAT garage and workshop area, decent yard (if overgrown), large rooms with incredible ceiling heights, AMAZING woodwork, nice layout with good possibilities for small changes that would make a HUGE difference.

The Bad : WATER. It needs a new roof and gutters (it has a tarp over a large area), the walls need replacing, the kitchen floors are done, the KITCHEN is done, the exterior needs scraped and painted, there’s evidence of water damage in every room, the electrical looks to need replacing, the systems will need replaced, and there’s moisture in the basement.

(On a side note, I want to high-five whoever put the tarp up on the roof. When we bought the Murray-Bryant House, we desperately wanted to be allowed to put a tarp on the roof during contract negotiations to keep water from continuing to come into the house. And even though we offered to pay for it – not caring if if we closed or not – we weren’t allowed to. So I’m glad at least someone tried to stop the biggest influx of water while it continues to sit.)

Diagnosis : This house needs someone desperately. A flipper won’t buy it, because it’ll cost too much to make a profit (in my opinion). I think you could get out of it what you put into it – it’s a break-even house. That’s keeping in mind that, even with our experience, we’re not a house inspector or contractor, and the numbers in my head are completing this house to “Amy & Doug Standards,” which means using GOOD materials and being historically accurate and paying attention to details. I’m sure someone could do it for way less using cookie-cutter-builder-grade materials. But she deserves so much more, don’t you think? On the bright side, it needs new electrical and plumbing, but you have to take the water-damaged walls down anyway – so it’ll make that part easier. This house has HUGE potential for someone who wants to love it, save it, or live in it. If I had the money to finance the restoration, I would do it in a heartbeat, knowing that I wouldn’t make a profit. I just want to save it.

Isn’t it cute?!?! Look at the shingles! It’s only one story – the window up top is not a room.


The papers on the window are foreclosure notices.


There is a mess of cable all over this house. It’s bizarre. But the porch is cute.


The foundation is brick, and there is brick on the ground. So it needs some help in some areas.


Some of the lower boards look bad, but overall, we were both impressed by the shape of the siding. It’s a total scrap / prime / and paint. But we think the exterior is in decent shape!


Some of the lower grossness.



Can you spot the license plate being used as flashing material? Classy.


Yes. That is a hollow-core rotting interior door on the outside of the house. It leads to a bedroom, super common around here to have two front doors next to each other – our rental cottage has the same. On the plus side, the ceiling of the porch is in AWESOME shape (and super cute).


Here’s the garage! It’s big, and as Doug said, it’s probably in the best shape of the property. It’s a 1-car garage, but it’s totally big enough to put a two-car door on (we measured).



The living room is a lovely shape and size. The fireplace is nice, the woodwork is STELLAR. The floors in the main house might be salvageable.



I didn’t measure, but at least 10′ ceilings in here.




The dining room. All the transoms look to be in good shape. It’s a marvel to me that this house got to this poor of condition, but the woodwork remains unpainted.




The kitchen needs help. I think there are some layout tweaks that would be easy. It’s not small, it just needs help.


This “mudroom” area is part of the kitchen, and I think it would be awesome to make this a true part of the kitchen.


There’s a door to the partial basement on the right, and an entry to the bath on the left. I’d close off that bathroom entrance, and make the entry a pantry. The bathroom is accessible through a bedroom, so I’d make that a master suite, and add a second full bath and laundry room off the kitchen. There’s a sunny addition off the kitchen (which I didn’t realize I didn’t get a picture of) but it would be perfect for that!


The glass door on the right leads into the addition, which could make a nice sized second full-bath and laundry.


The kitchen parquet floor is done. Buckled from water damage.


Here’s the main water issue with the house. There’s currently a tarp over the roof on this area. This bedroom would be the master (it connects to the bath).


The bathroom size is GREAT by old house standards. And if we can get the clawfoot out of the tomb it’s in, it might be a keeper.


This is the front bedroom.



The door on the right is that weirdo interior door to the porch.


This is the middle bedroom.


The light and height is amazing. We can improve on the light fixtures. If you buy this house, I’ll gift you a period-appropriate light fixture. I PROMISE.



Chatting in the backyard afterwards, Rachel and I saw that there was an incredible view of our courthouse from the property. Super cool!


I’ve never posted a “Save This House!” on the blog. But I felt this needed it. And maybe someone will fall in love with this! We wish we could save it. But we’ll totally help you if you save it.


TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! And your enemies, too, if they’re into historic preservation and have some cash.

(Also, I want the outside to be a deep plum. It’s really screaming to be that color. Right?)



    1. I bought this house! Not really, but one incredibly like it. I just found your site and I’m madly in love. I have a 1895 Queen Anne on 2/3 acre that had been neglected to being just feral. We’ll be working on her forever, you are an inspiration! Thanks for taking the time to document all you do so thoroughly ❤️ Kelly

    1. Is it the two-story white Victorian closer to 31 on Jefferson? I’m dying to see that, too. I’ve heard rumors that it’s going to be up for tax sale soon….

  1. I’m happy the former owners were happy to watch TV (I saw that huge dish in the front yard). If they hadn’t had the TV, they might have kept themselves busy painting over all the woodwork and door hinges!
    All in all, not too bad looking. Definitely worth saving. Hope it finds a loving owner! Thanks, Amy. Yes, the view of the courthouse is lovely.

  2. I just found your blog a few weeks ago and funny story, I’ve been trying to convince my husband to buy this house for the last few days. We are Franklin College grads and miss calling Franklin home so I’m always looking at the houses for sale there. I’m going to have to show him your blog post because he’s definitely concerned about what work needs done since we’ve only seen the house online at this point. Maybe you’ll be the one to convince him to save it!

    1. Stephanie, If you are interested in the house you should contact Krista Linke with the City of Franklin Community Development. She is on the board of the FDC and RDC. I know that the FDC (Franklin Development Corporation) has grant money and low interest money to loan. They are always looking for projects. klinke@franklin.in.gov

  3. I don’t understand why people let homes get to this stage. If you keep a house up when something needs repair it will never get to this point and then cost thousands and thousands of dollars to even be livable.

    1. I have that visceral reaction, too, Carmen. But I know sometimes life gets in the way – our house was foreclosed on twice before we bought it, and health issues prevented one of those owners from saving when they should. And some of these cottages in town are often run by landlords who don’t pay to fix anything, because they don’t care. It’s hard not to get upset that they got to this condition, but I try to remember that there’s always a story – both to the house, and the owners. And sometimes that story is so sad….

  4. House is older that 1910, more like 1890’s, The reason these cottages have two doors on the porch, is one is access to the ‘formal parlor’ where guests would be met. The other door was to the “Day Parlor” which was the family entrance. I might add that porch looks like a later addition it would have been open to the rafters and probably had elaborate turned posts and fretwork which is why you see a transom above that door and the porch was likely narrower and of course was all wood including the porch floor. The front formal parlor was normally off limits to the kids. This house doesn’t look too bad (I’ve restored far worse).

    1. When I went through it, the first things I said was that I thought this was really late 1800s – I’m glad you agree! I’ve thought about the formal parlor aspect for the two doors, but in both this house and our Cottage, the houses are smaller and not very grand, so I dismissed that idea as not being practical, since the family entrance in both cases spills into the formal entrance room. But I’d love to know more about formal and day parlors in smaller homes! I love your thoughts on the porch as well! I definitely think there’s so much to save. There’s a lot of water damage inside – a lot – but the wood is in great shape, and I think if the floors could dry out, they might be okay, too!

  5. Hi, greetings from Australia. In Nov’15 my husband and I had been seriously looking for a home in Ohio. Planning the big move back home to be with family and found another “old beauty” for sale. She called out to me with a passionate cry for help. When relatives called the listing agent for us she was already “pending”. 3mos. later still looking the old girl appeared again for sale. We phoned the agent and packed our bags and now own her. She is full of unpainted pretty woodwork and stainned glass windows manufactured locally before 1900. She too has been abused and neglected and can’t wait to restore her. We bought her for $17,000.

  6. Amy, many of the late-19th century homes in our area (Southern Illinois) have a second entrance door in what is usually the front bedroom. Even smaller homes, like my great-grandparents’ house, had them. I have always been told that the reason for the door was because wakes were normally held at home. When someone passed away, they were taken to the undertaker, then returned home in their casket until the funeral, where the family would “sit up with the dead”. The funeral itself was sometimes held at home as well, but often at the family church. I knew many old-timers that called these doors “casket doors”. The whole idea seems sorta morbid to us now, but back then it was fairly common. As for this house, I hope that someone who loves old houses buys it and restores it…

  7. Poor old house. No one has loved it for a long time, and it’s like a woolly stray dog with hopeful eyes, begging for someone to save it.

    The picture of the Eastlake hinges says it all. You’re right. It deserves rescue, and I hope someone will take it on.


      1. i have been devouring your blog over the last couple of days. I realize this is years later but any update on this little beauty?

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