Hidden treasures can be found in plain sight.
Take the modest 1870 home on Medina's South Court Street. With its utilitarian front porch, tired white exterior and simple floor plan, the folk Victorian had sat vacant for years. But its decorative gingerbread woodwork in the roof gables and two-story bay window were important. So Main Street Medina purchased it in July 2013 as part of its Renew Medina effort to show how a restoration project could anchor nearby homes and attract new residents.
"Its decorative elements were clues that it was definitely part of the character of South Court Street," says Matt Wiederhold, executive director of Main Street Medina.
With renovations completed in early May, the home highlights how some TLC can ignite pride, bring together a community and even motivate others to take on projects.
"This home has become a community rallying point," says Wiederhold. "It doesn't have to be a grand mansion to be an important building in the neighborhood."
Here's how the crew restored a few key elements during the renovation.
While cutting a hole for a new dryer vent, the crew found a roll of wallpaper from the 1880s and a small thread box from 1890, which contained mother-of-pearl buttons, straight pins and a man's collar. "It's like doing residential archaeology," Wiederhold says. "We're thinking that perhaps a seamstress lived in the house." Also a scrap of floral 1915 wallpaper, gilt still intact, was recovered. To showcase the home's story, Wiederhold plans to create a shadow box to display the historic finds.
The 1870 home was originally built with an outhouse. Wiederhold suspects plumbing was installed at the turn of the 20th century, when part of the lean-to kitchen was carved out for an indoor bathroom. Workers found a cast-iron tub with the Kohler brand imprinted on the bottom and serial numbers that indicated a 1912 model. The exterior was sanded with a wire brush and sandpaper, before getting a coat of white Rust-Oleum spray paint. "The inside was in great shape," Wiederhold says.
A set of French double doors was discovered in the home's detached garage. "It was in pretty decent shape and had not been painted like other woodwork in the house," Wiederhold says. The team applied spray orange oil to clean it, followed by two coats of polyurethane paint. "The door has a few nicks and cracks in it, but that is part of the history of the house," Wiederhold says. The refinished door was hung on a track outside the first-floor bathroom "like a piece of sculpture, but it's functional," Wiederhold says.