By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Just before placing an offer on a home, Kenya Long noticed an interesting listing on a website and convinced her husband, Michael, to simply take a look.
After walking through the rooms, he sat on the step and declared: “This feels like home.”
Not many would have uttered those words at that time. After all, the basement was full of water and no furnace was operating. Still, the couple could visualize the finished project.
“We were looking for a fixer-upper and this one wasn’t as bad as some of the ones we’d looked at,” said Michael, owner of Dawgone Handy, a home improvement business. Capable of completing any project on his own, Michael was not afraid of the long list of repairs.
“We wanted to pay cash and avoid a mortgage,” added Kenya, account manager with Indiana Finance. “Other people bid higher than us at the auction but since we had cash, they took our offer.”
Since the purchase a little over a year ago, the house has seen many updates and changes. But the most interesting feature has remained the same. Although a visitor could not see traces of it from the outside, the home was originally a log cabin built 200 years ago.
Former resident visits
Left as a hallmark to history and a testimony of what lies behind some of the drywall is the dividing wall between the family room and living room. Wood beams that have stood the test of time take center stage and add unusual character to the home.
“We’ve been pulling the history on the house to see who the original owners were,” said Kenya. “We know it was moved here from Mounds Park and that it has been in the neighbor’s family for years and years.”
“One day a 90-year-old man knocked on the door and said he grew up here,” added Michael. “He said he and his family dug the basement by hand and he really wanted to see what the inside looked like today.”
The Longs tore down a room affectionately referred to as “the slanted room” by the neighbors. Fearing it was too askew to save, the couple opted for demolition. Michael built on a spacious master suite which features a great deal of woodwork to match the tone of the rest of the house.
“I built it quickly because I wanted to come inside,” he said. “It was so hot last summer that it was awful to work outside.”
A former owner turned a garage into a laundry room. The couple took this upgrade and transformed the space into a dining room. New flooring appears in several areas and a new front door welcomes visitors.
“The biggest problem with the house is that nothing is square,” said Michael. “It’s tough to replace things when everything in the house is a little off.”
Their daughters Lillee McMillian, 15, and Shyanne Bryant, 14, helped with the demolition and construction.
“They helped more than I did,” said Kenya with a laugh. “I said: ‘That seems like a lot of work for y’all to do. See you when I get home from work.’ Their payment was an above-ground swimming pool.”
Although Michael did not particularly want to live near neighbors, he has found the two acres that stretch behind the house to be enough space to compensate. It also helps that the neighbors have been so friendly and helpful.
“We were ready to buy something and really make it our own,” said Kenya. “We knew this was sturdy and we figured if it has been here for 200-plus years, it’s going to be here for a long time to come.”
Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.