By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
When Dottie Watson and her late husband, Richard, built their home, they had family and friends in mind. Not only did they choose land with nine acres of outdoor space to enjoy, but they also designed rooms for hosting parties and out-of-town guests.
“It was important to him that we had plenty of room,” said Dottie. “He was retired from GM and didn’t like the direction it was going. Our two sons worked for GM at the time and he knew they would probably be living out of town before long. We wanted a place large enough for them to stay when they all came home.”
A finished basement supplies a great deal of space for family, gatherings and weekly card parties. An added convenience is a second full kitchen that reduces traffic up and down the stairs.
“It’s also nice because I can set the tables for family dinners the day before and that helps me,” she added. “I like to decorate for the seasons by changing the tablecloths and setting out special things.”
But Richard was not happy to sit back and watch someone else build his home. With a hands-on attitude and plenty of experience under his belt, he only hired the basics to be completed for him in 1999. He then built the three-car garage, laundry room, back porch and front porch himself. He also finished the second story and basement.
But, first things first, he built his barn. “He just liked to do things like that,” said Dottie.
Closet as big as bedroom
With plenty of time and talent on his hands, Richard added many unique touches to the home. Window seats abound and are tucked into most rooms — including the closet.
“The one in the closet turned out to be really handy — he used it to put on his shoes all the time,” she said. “I love the one in my bathroom and, on a sunny day, I often sit and read on the window seat in my bedroom. The grandchildren have played and played on them so they’ve been put to good use. We could have easily made this a four-bedroom house but we used the space differently.”
Another different use of space is a massive closet. Many people are growing accustomed to walk-in closets, but this one is almost the size of a small bedroom. At the other end is a second storage area that could house more clothes or offseason decorations.
“He was just so handy and could do just about anything,” she said. “It’s also how he died. He was building the food pantry in Chesterfield and fell off a scaffolding. He had great helpers who finished it for him. They wanted to name it after him but I said that he wouldn’t have wanted that. He wanted it built to serve the people.”
Dottie manages to care for the interior of the home very well but has found the acreage to be difficult. She and her sister, Barbara Ashley, are planning on downsizing together. Since the sisters get along so well, becoming roommates was natural.
“We are building a home that is smaller than this one but big enough for all the family to enjoy,” she said. Moving from 4,100 square feet to 2,300 square feet should cut the amount of work without sacrificing the ability to entertain. “It will all be one level and only sit on one-third of an acre.”
Leaving will be difficult, but with her sister by her side, she is prepared for a new chapter.
“I have a lot of things here that are really nice,” she added. “I will really miss it. I know it will be hard on the kids because it is the last place they were with their dad and I understand. It’s true for me, too."
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.