The Herald Bulletin

January 26, 2013

Rich in character

By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Although hailing from Florida and working in Indianapolis, Christopher Mamazza has taken a serious interest in the history of his character-filled home on Eighth Street. As a general contractor, he is a perfect fit for this old home that has become one project after another.

“The original owner’s grandson has been here a few times,” said Mamazza animatedly. “His dad was born upstairs and he got teary-eyed when he saw the room.”

Commissioned by Charles Harvey and Edna Tanner Rawlings in 1910, the home is a stand out among the regal houses that line the historic street. Since Edna came from a wealthy family, her father gave the couple a Studebaker dealership as a wedding present.

“When we opened up the front room we found some travel books from 1911 and 1912 and one of them coordinated with their honeymoon,” said Mamazza. “We were fortunate because many owners of historic homes have to do a lot of research to learn about the house, but we just had a family member knock on the door.”

Not only did the Rawlings’ grandson supply information, but also copies of pictures as the home was being constructed – and of Edna in a Studebaker.

“I love history, so when he stopped by, it was like hitting the lottery,” he continued. “His grandparents had to sell the home in the early 30s because the Great Depression folded the business. He had never been inside before.”

Drawn by the charm of the exterior, Mamazza has been willing to pour time, energy and money into the interior of the home. With five children (Christian, 12, Camden, 10, Mya, 8, Makenna, 6, and Christopher II, 3), his own business as a general contractor and work as a personal trainer, projects understandably tend to span several months.

With help and support from wife Marisa, a Highland graduate and a registered nurse at St. Vincent, he has totally revamped and redesigned the master bathroom, refashioned the kids’ rooms, removed the horsehair plaster and lathe from the living room, installed drywall and removed the veneer on the fireplace.

Once he puts the finishing touches on the living room and fireplace, his eye will turn to the kitchen. While it is currently popular to remove walls and enlarge the heart of the home, efficiency is nudging him to use some of the space for a mud room and return the kitchen to its pre-1970s size.

Originally the kitchen space was divided into a mud room, galley kitchen and maid’s quarters. Now the area is one large room with an island, bar and eating area. A previous owner implemented the open-concept design.

Since traffic runs through the door behind the refrigerator, Mamazza is wishing for the return of the mud room.

“This kitchen is too big and not efficient,” he said. “I’d like to have an arch to separate the entrance and have space for each kid to put their coat and shoes.”

Right now his grandmother’s refinished antique coat rack from England is overloaded with the weight of servicing seven people.

But, as much as the couple would like to be finished with the home, they are careful about balancing their schedules and ensuring that time with the children comes first. Family walks to favorite locations, such as the Nile for a bite to eat, take precedence over construction projects.

And, on the walk home, they get to enjoy their favorite part of the house.

“I just love the charm of the exterior,” said Mamazza. “It has so much character and architectural detail.

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