By Emma Bowen Meyer For The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — When Ryan and Sarah Smith moved from Little Rock, Ark., to the land of cornfields, they thought they were leaving fun-filled woods and hills behind. After touring an old home in Forest Hills, they discovered a wonderland that reminded them of home.
“The view out the back windows is what sold the house,” said Ryan, pulpit preacher of Journey Church of Christ (previously known as Lindberg Road Church of Christ). “We turned the corner, looked out there and couldn’t believe it. It was fall and all the trees were so colorful.”
Due to the walk-out basement, the first floor becomes a second story in the back of the house. Huge windows grant a beautiful vista of woods that roll down a hill away from the house.
“In the summer and fall you can’t even see the neighbors’ houses,” he added. “We have our own little Narnia in the backyard.”
Ethan, 9, and Wyatt, 6, love to tromp in the woods and bring back plenty of treasures – along with plenty of mud. Collecting bones and salamanders, they enjoy tracing the movements of raccoons and deer.
“We have eight or nine deer show up every day,” said Ryan. “We get all of this living in the middle of town when we thought we were going to have to give it up.”
“Our latest find is that they have paved more of the White River Trail,” said Sarah. “We like to ride our bikes to Frisch’s. This summer we can ride to the city market and the library. It’s really exciting for us.”
Not only a great spot for fair-weather months, this home also provides sledding action over the snowy winter. Using the pathway of the stairs out back as a launching point, Ryan was able to create a tube-like adventure that twisted down the hill and featured a jump at the end.
Built in 1934, the house was updated in the early 90’s and was ready for a facelift. The Smiths carefully removed the floor-to-ceiling wallpaper that was present in every single room except the living room.
Church members helped with more challenging projects, such as building a set of stairs from the walk-out basement to the base of the hill in the backyard, adding an extra doorway in the living room wall, and renovating the upstairs bathroom.
“I tiled the floor myself,” said Sarah. “I was pretty nervous about it but it turned out really well.”
When she wasn’t tiling, she had a can of spray paint in her hand. By adding a black coat to all the brass fixtures in the house (including the door to the fireplace), she inexpensively fashioned pieces that look brand new.
“Instead of replacing things that still work, I just update them,” she said.
Not only has the family enjoyed the records of the home left by the previous owner, including pictures from the architect, but also finding surprises at every turn.
“We found a secret room after we moved in,” said Ryan, who explained that a small door in a closet opens to a hall that, once crawled through, leads to a tiny room. “Sometimes we go in there and read a book.”
They also discovered an old safe built into the wall. Previous owners have passed the combination down through the years so that it remains useable. A small inset behind a door next to the fireplace was a mystery until a visit to Connor Prairie. Sarah learned she is the proud owner of a black oven, which was used to bake bread.
“God has blessed us,” said Ryan.
Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.