The Herald Bulletin

August 24, 2013

Jim Bailey: Buildings come and go, but home sweet home remains

The Herald Bulletin

---- — No, not all of Anderson’s landmarks have succumbed to the wrecking ball.

The Paramount Theatre has been rescued. St. Mary’s, Central Christian and First Presbyterian churches stand unscathed. They’re attempting to bring back the Tower Building.

Then there are the private homes in the central city that have lasted well over a century. Just travel down Historic West Eighth Street and see how many have been beautifully refurbished, and on nearby streets as well.

Then there is the 113-year-old home we live in.

We bought the two-story corner property in 1968. Our papers said it was built in 1900. Instead of getting into the upward mobility thing, we’ve stayed put and made the house a home.

There’s a bit of history connected with the place. A former Madison County sheriff grew up there. And a nationally known gospel singer called it home for several years.

We’ve made some changes, of course. First thing we did was get rid of an excess of foliage around the perimeter, felling a couple of trees and bushes and seeing one big tree come down in a windstorm. The ice storm a decade ago did most of the job of topping our giant Chinese elm for us.

The home was large enough to house my mom during a recuperative period after her first heart attack, then give plenty of room to rear four daughters to adulthood. We did all that with one bathroom (we’ve since added a half bath).

Next month makes our 45th year of residence. We’ve gone through two furnaces, had roofing done a few times, added some insulation, rewired, replumbed and repainted the place. We’ve dealt with invading pests, added new windows and doors and had concrete work done.

But the basic house seems to be as solid as the day it was built. The framework is so sturdy you can barely drive a nail in it.

We don’t have central air conditioning. On the hottest nights our ancient window unit keeps us comfortable in our bedroom (this summer we’ve had to use it exactly one week). With our 10-foot ceilings on the main floor, ordinary fans are enough to provide reasonable comfort in the heat of summer. We fear that adding central air wouldn’t be cost-effective, giving Indiana’s typical limited hot stretch.

A couple of years ago we added a deck on the back of the house, a perfect location for family get-togethers when our kids and grandkids make it to town.

We can’t complain about utility costs, taxes or insurance. And our mortgage has long since vanished, except for a token home equity loan that provides a bit of a tax break for a couple of senior citizens.

Some people prefer newer digs. We find ourselves among those who are not only content with vintage housing but find it enjoyable indeed.

Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by e-mail at