Old + new done right
Jerry and Deb Myers couldn’t stand by and let a beauty of a house on South Seventh be demolished. How they renovated with respect for the historic while introducing a lot of updates
• by Rebecca Long Pyper for Flourish •
THE OLD GASSER HOME has come a long way from having a basement full of water and a foundation so crooked the doors and windows refuse to open. Today it is enjoying Phase Two of its life, thanks to a complete remodel by owners Jerry and Deb Myers.
“I’ve thought this 100 times: If the walls could speak, the stories they would tell,” Jerry said.
For sure they’d tell about being a beautiful home originally, then being destroyed by massive flooding and vacancy just to be renewed again at the hands of a new family.
Jerry and Deb Myers started renovations in May 2012, and about a year later, they moved into the 1915 house when the tubs, showers and toilets were in — but that meant no kitchen cabinets and no countertops. The couple made it work while they finished the project. And although Jerry is an architect, Debbie was wholly invested in the process too. “I’m into old everything. I was a redo girl before being a redo girl was cool,” Deb said.
Since there’s been lots to redo, she’s been busy, and one of the places she left her mark was in the colors of the house. The green added to the exterior was her choice, and so were the rich colors inside, like orange in the kitchen and a dab of purple in every room “because it’s fun,” she said.
The project really was all about respecting the past while adding sympathetic new touches — a balancing act that isn’t easy. “If you want a big challenge, try to blend the old and new,” Jerry said.
Lots of spaces inside feature that new/old mix. For instance, the main-floor bath has a vintage dresser retrofitted to be a sink and vanity, which helps the bathroom not feel too brand new. In the master bedroom — a new addition to the home where a sleeping porch used to be — windows and moldings were selected to match the rest of the main floor, and the trim was painted brown to match stained trim elsewhere.
In the kitchen the couple opted to use as many of the existing, to-the-ceiling cabinets as possible, and those that are new are such close replicas that you can’t tell where original ends and new begins, right down to the hardware. It’s Debbie’s favorite room. “Lots of little grandmas and lots of little families lived there. Life was lived there — I feel it,” she said.
The College Neighborhood Association nominated the Gasser house for an Orchid, a state award celebrating people who make positive contributions to historic preservation. It’s quite the house now, hosting 20 people for dinner every other weekend. And from the front rooms, which retain their original windows, Jerry loves to take in views of neighborhood he and Deb have enhanced. “At night you look out, and it’s almost like a surrealist painting — the glass is wavy and everything sort of moves,” he said.
But it is a pretty surreal place after all. *