New Castle News

Local News

October 15, 2012

Experts share joys and frustrations of historic home renovations



Dustin Moran and Mariah Kakis were so smitten by the Victorian house at Wallace Avenue and Mercer Street that they relocated from Arizona with dreams of converting it to a bed and breakfast.

They are still on track to do so.

Built in 1882 by John Wallace as a two-story house, the building’s first major renovation occurred in 1895 when a third floor and mansard roof were added, Moran said.

The couple has worked on the building for two and one-half years undoing results of neglect, vandalism and invasion by nature before they could begin renovations. They expect to have the interior in shape in another year and then to concentrate on the exterior and landscaping.

“We’ve overcome many challenges,” Moran said.

The theft of copper pipes and wire resulted in no plumbing, heat or electricity and severe water damage throughout the building. They have replaced most of the broken windows and commissioned custom-made units to replace the cut glass windows that had been stolen from the entrance way.

They removed a 120-year-old, 150-foot tall oak tree which had damaged the portico and extended roots into the basement.

“We fell in love with the big window’s, pocket doors and 12-foot ceilings,” Moran said. The house also includes seven fireplaces and a non-working, 1927-era chair lift on the stairs.

They have restored utilities, replaced more than 150 pieces of slate on the roof, removed the back porch and spent considerable time shoring up a three-car garage at the back of the property. When restoring French doors to the dining room they discovered charred wood from a fire of many years ago.

They also replaced weight-bearing walls which had been cut or removed by former owners.

“We saw sagging on the second and third floors because the first floor supporting wall was gone,” Kakis said.

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