Jennifer & Scott
Jennifer: “I’m originally from Illinois, Central Illinois. My husband was…he moved around a lot, but his family ended up in Illinois. And we met in college. His grandmother and grandfather were down here in Warner Robins, and his grandfather was military and retired from Robins Air Force Base. And his grandmother worked at Robins Federal Credit Union.
So, we came down the summer after the ‘96 Olympics. And, his grandmother had a house available next door that she owned. On the way back we decided it was time for us to make a move out of Illinois. We packed up and moved down.
From the beginning, we would drive up to Macon and look at all the old homes. We really liked the area around St. Joe’s. But at the time, we had one little boy and one on the way. So, taking on a fixer-upper just wasn’t in the cards. We did look at a couple houses. So, for the next twenty years we would drive up here and kinda look around. People were telling us, ‘You don’t want to live in Macon. It’s really bad up there.’
So, as we got older, we’ve started seeing what Mercer has done and what Historic Macon has done and the other groups around town, trying to preserve these homes. We’ve always had an interest in trying to preserve a home.
You come in, and you almost feel sad for the house because it’s in some sad shape.
About a year ago, my husband decided that he needed to move his business out of Warner Robins. He was closer to Perry. Him and his associates started looking at businesses, anywhere between Atlanta and Warner Robins.
He called up one day, and said, ‘Hey, I want you to come look at this building.’ So that was the, what we call, ‘The Bush building.’
While we were up here looking around, I looked across the street, and Historic Macon has posted their sign saying this was for sale. I asked, ‘Do you know that the house is for sale?’ He said, ‘No, I hadn’t noticed that.’
So, we called and got a tour of it. Annnnd…I think quickly thereafter we made an offer and got into negotiations with purchasing what we call ‘The Pink House.’
It had good bones, but it did need some work. The roof is in bad shape. Lots of leaks, lotta wall damage from the mold and mildew. The floors, a couple of the floors, were warped because they were sitting on water. But the basement was in great shape.
So, we’re at the point now…we have had to put some new framing up. The first thing we did was rebuild the front porch roof system. When they took all that down, they saw that it was actually a vaulted porch ceiling. So we restored the vaulted porch ceiling.”
Scott: “It was last occupied approximately nine years ago; built in 1877. It was probably not pink then.
We found a photo behind this fireplace…the lady in it, her attire…I believe it was taken pre-1900. We did find one Buffalo nickel underneath the threshold. And we found a lot of…coupons for your pictures from Watson Drugstore on Third Street in the 1930s.
So you would walk down the sidewalk, and it would automatically take your picture. And, they would hand you a coupon, and you could purchase it for a quarter. There was a lot of those.
We have a lot of postcards from a Greek lady who lived here, probably at the same time. Most of the postcards are Greek handwriting from friends or relatives in the Atlanta area and in the Northeast. There’s also a voting card for her. She was a stockholder in a utility company up by New York.
This one’s a manageable size; it’s approximately 1600 square feet. So…there was no foundation work to be done. But, the windows are fairly simple in this home. It’s not a complicated window situation.
Getting to reuse the 6-inch Heart Pine is a really good deal. That’s actually…that’s one of the key signs that it’s pre-1900, as well. Once they hit 1900 they had reduced down to 4-inch because they were already running out of the old growth. And all of this is salvageable.
This layer is an Oak veneer from the 1920s. There is no sub-floor. So the floor that you see is what was actually laid in 1877. It will all come up and be planed and reused. All the fireplaces will be saved. We’ve saved all the framing except for the roofing system which was redone. And, we’ll save all of the windows. I don’t know how many of them were original.
Jennifer: “Our youngest will attend Mount de Sales in the fall as a freshman.”
Scott: “60 feet. 100 feet. I can walk to work, and he can walk to school.
We, we were looking for a change. Warner Robins has been great to us. It’s a great family town. It’s been great for our kids. You drive everywhere. Facilities for recreation or dining can be ten miles apart.
Coming here, I think we’re able to get access to a lifestyle that’s more pedestrian or bicycle-based, which is appealing to us at this point in time in our lives. There’s a great food culture going on. Lots of access to recreational for our son. He can use Tattnall Square Park. We love sporting activities. We can access Mercer games. All of that’s just nice. And we’re within 4-6 blocks of everything.
My mom…they live in an 1890s Victorian on the National Historic Registry, as well. In Flora, Illinois. I’m sure it’s probably the only one in Flora; it’s a very small town.
I like old stuff. I like the history.”
Jennifer: “The character and, I guess, the craftsmanship.”
Scott: “I think we’re a small piece of the [Macon] puzzle. Historic Macon is doing great stuff. They really are. They’re doing a lot of different things, and all of them seem to be one cohesive end game. I’m more than happy to participate in that.
This is not our forever home. More than happy to use it for the next decade and hopefully leave it way better than we found it so that somebody else can use it for the next 100 years.
She already had to pull me off a couple [of other houses]!”
Jennifer: “We might not have the prettiest trim, old trim, or the prettiest decor on the outside, but the stories make this thing pretty special, pretty colorful.”
Scott: “This is a doable thing. It’s not a bankbuster. You know, it’s really not. And, I think that’s unique about Macon. A lot of towns have a historic district, and there’s a set number of historic homes.
Macon goes a long way down Vineville, and all of that has a lot of age and a lot of history. And, you know…if you get enough people interested in it, you can do it all.
Historic Macon has a lot of options that can interweave with financial institutions that can make it affordable and not a hinderance.”
Jennifer: “What color are we going to paint it? That is THE question.”
Scott. “I mean, where else can you go in the United States and decide you’re gonna restore a historic home, and the front door needs a lotta work…and it just so happens that you have access to Willingham Sash & Door which has basically been in business since this home was built?
That’s kinda unusual, I think.
I would love to see the state expand the rail system and let Macon be a part of that. That would provide a huge population base to Macon.”
Jennifer: “All of our boys have been exposed to the…”
Scott: “Sweat equity”
Jennifer: “I don’t think they’re gonna take that for granted.”
Scott: “And there’s good problem solving skills in it for the boys. We’re not doing this all ourselves, obviously. Even just doing demolition…there are problems that arise, and you’ve gotta solve it to get the job done. They’ve all been exposed to that.
My hope will be that…he’ll consider this ‘home’ more so than the older two will consider Warner Robins ‘home.’ Even though, they lived there for almost twenty years.
And the reason is, Macon has a place and a purpose and a time and it stays. Warner Robins and its residents are almost always transient.
You know, everyone comes and goes…you don’t know how long they’re gonna be there.”