At Home: Returning an Olde Towne East home to its original splendor
Paul Unger is not a stranger to restoring old homes. Before taking on his current project, a beautiful 4500 square foot, 4 bedroom, 4 full baths, 2 half bath home along East Broad Street, he rehabbed a 3000 square foot home on Neil Avenue. That home was a duplex and after he finished it, he realized he would prefer to live in a single family home. Some friends of his lived in Olde Towne East and they mentioned the home on Broad Street to him.
The current owner was unable to keep up with the house and was looking to sell. Paul was interested. “I like Olde Towne East because it is still transitioning and I like the challenge and the excitement of being part of it,” he says. “The houses here are just amazing.”
The house is a part of the 18th & East Broad Street Historic District. The house itself was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 17, 1986 as the Erwin W. Schueller House. Dr. Schueller attained success in the medical profession at a young age. He was born in Columbus June 15, 1871, grew up here and went to The Ohio State University for a bachelor of arts degree. He decided to practice medicine and studied under Dr. T. C. Hoover of Columbus. He then did some traveling to New York City and Germany for additional studies before returning to the United States.
The house was built for him in 1909 where he lived until his death in 1914. Built in the Queen Anne style, the house is two and a half stories of brick construction with a slate hip roof, front bay windows and second story round arched window. Dr. Schueller’s wife Sara continued to live there until around the mid-1940s when it was converted to offices. The house had a few other owners. Notable ones include The Ohio Nurses Association had their offices there in the 1950s. In the 1980s, the home housed the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees’ local chapter. Their membership declined and they lost tenants and were unable to maintain it.
Paul bought the home in November of 2007. It was not habitable. The old slate roof had over 80 leaks. Restoring the slate roof was the first order of business. He also had the box gutters replaced. He was able to recover a few rotted pieces of the box gutter and by looking at old photos from previous owners, he restored them to their original look. The entire inside was gutted to the brick.
He worked with Steve Hurtt of Urbanorder Architecture to restore the two-story rear addition that was falling off the back of the house. Now it holds a pantry, storage, and dog shower. Upstairs, is the walk-in closet for the master bedroom.
Having the house down to the bare bones meant that new wiring could be added for security and modern electronic upgrades. The house has been completely insulated. The wall between the dining room and the kitchen was removed to open up the space. The coffered ceiling in the dining room had a few spots that were good condition and provided an idea as to how it originally looked. Most of the original wood flooring in the kitchen was in poor condition and a new floor was put in. The flooring that was in good condition was reused to complete other rooms.
The tile in the entry was original to the house and was restored. The light in the entry is a modern touch. There are other modern elements Paul has added to the home. The stair railing and newel post are original. Franklin Art Glass Studios restored the stained glass window on the stair landing.
Upstairs, the transoms over the doorways had all been removed. Paul had tall 5-panel doors made for the doorways and closets the replicated the look of the transoms. The master bedroom is a wonderfully spacious room and has a gorgeous bathroom with heated floors, a beautiful stand alone bathtub, dual sinks, a shower and heated floors.
There was a huge safe located in the upstairs that he was unable to remove and instead built a closet around. It was locked and Paul had a Safe Cracking Party where Brock Safe Company came to open it, but alas, there was nothing inside.
The third floor is a full apartment with a lofted bedroom. That was the space Paul had finished first and he lived there while the rest of the house was under construction.
Lighting the front porch is a beautiful fixture -recovered from the now demolished Firestone Mansion- that Paul found at Columbus Architectural Salvage. The railings and brick columns had to be rebuilt higher for current building codes. Paul also had all of the home’s trim details redone.
There is still some work to be done on the home. Paul is working on an upstairs bathroom, refinishing it to its original look. It has some of the original fixtures and a clawfoot tub that is original to the home’s era. He’s like to restore the fireplaces. He would also like to replicate the railing along the top of the front porch. He would also like to add a retaining wall to the front yard with a wrought iron fence to separate it visually and add additional privacy. The backyard is still a parking lot from the home’s earlier uses and Paul would like to remake into an oasis with a pool. And he hasn’t done much to the carriage house yet.
Paul enjoys working on historical homes and is excited about the other work going on in the neighborhood. The activity on Oak Street is especially exciting, with the opening of Yellow Brick Pizza, The Angry Baker and The Tavern. “I love the area and I’m probably in for the long haul,” he says.
If you’re interested in checking out more homes in Olde Towne East, this year’s Olde Towne East Summer Tour of Historic Homes is scheduled for Sunday, July 15th from 1-6pm.
At Home is a monthly column on Columbus Underground focused on urban home remodeling and style as well as older home renovations and unique homes in Columbus. If you would like to have your home featured in the At Home series, please send an email to me at [email protected].