Save This House: A 1901 Victorian in Kentucky

by hookedonhouses on June 21, 2012

A reader named Ann wrote me about this Victorian in her hometown of Columbia, Kentucky. Its original owner recently died at the age of 102, and it’s on the market for the first time. “The home is in excellent close-to-original condition,” she says. “I wish someone would buy it and restore it!”

As you can see, the house needs a lot of cosmetic work, to say the least. But it’s only $189,000, and in the right hands, and with the right updates, this Victorian could be really lovely. Take a look and let us know what you would do to give this old house some new life!

The listing description:

The details of beautiful stained glass, real transom doors, hardwood floors throughout & gorgeous fireplaces in all bedrooms cannot be duplicated today. 1st level includes: Abundant sized 2 bedrooms, full bath, generous bay window family rm/formal dining, lovely eat-in kitchen with walk-in pantry/utility & formal living/parlor. The 2nd level features 3 bedrooms, full bath, 2nd huge kitchen, family rm & a parlor/study.The home needs new roof & updates standard w/ age of home.

The kitchen needs a lot of work (I’d start by taking the chair out of the sink–ha), but it’s a big room with lots of natural sunlight:

The house has 3,379 square feet with 5 bedrooms and 2 baths.

You can tell the house has been loved, even if it hasn’t been updated much over the years.

Here’s hoping this house finds a new owner who can see it through the next 100 years!

Is this a house you think deserves to be saved? For more photos and information, check the listing with Sarah Espinosa of RE/MAX. (Thanks to Ann for telling me about it!)

P.S. I’m still in Atlanta for the Haven Conference, and I’m having a blast meeting so many of my readers and fellow bloggers. I keep hearing that I’m much shorter in real life than people imagined, so next time I’ll have to wear higher heels. :-)

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Christina from Dallas June 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm

What a lovely house! Of course someone should save it and restore it! When I think of all those memories it must contain, I hope someone will fall in love with it and make some memories of their own there. The price is really inexpensive. Someone will get a good deal.

Rebecca C. June 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm

It probably needs everything done to it. The price is more than the average in that area too. Of course, who knows how large the average house is in that area. It really has some nice features though. Lots of space and some nice woodwork. I hope that someone buys this soon and fixes it up. I’m wondering how many layers of wallpaper are on those walls?

Tracie June 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm

It reminds me of a dollhouse I had when I was little….and I LOVED that dollhouse. Even that chair in the sink didn’t bother me (much :) )

Getting serious…I hope someone does embrace this house and help it live another 100 years. Honestly, I would update the electrical and bring it to code (that would probably be enough of a fortune on its own!) and redo the kitchen and bathrooms — thinking white/farm sink/etc…

I’d also restore all the wood and repair the plaster. The banister could be updated, but with all wood floors gleaming, and some elbow grease and love…that house could take many more breaths on its own. :)


Laura June 22, 2012 at 9:07 am

“Update the bannister”?? It’s one of the best things in the house!!

Fairfield House June 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Historic homes should be restored not renovated. There are enough cookie cutter homes for sale. I hope however purchases this gem does not gut it and turn it into a shell containing a contemporary home {except for the utilities.}

Fairfield House June 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

* whoever {not however}

Brandy June 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I agree–to a point. I adore historic homes and love period details, but at some point, we do have to renovate, not just restore, in order to make a home habitable for a 21st century family/couple/person. Would an additional bathroom or gently combining two rooms to make a “family room” really ruin the house? Would a more modernized kitchen take away every spec of historic charm? A water efficient toilet/water closet? Paint rather than the more period appropriate wallpaper? Tasteful and modernized lighting? Refreshed tile? I don’t think so and I’d bet most people would agree with me.

Laura June 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm

If you do all of those things, then I think yes, you take away the charm.

APB June 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Yes, removing/changing anything one considers “too old-fashioned” will ruin a house that still has most of its original layout, fixtures, and details. It’s almost impossible to find houses like that, which haven’t already been robbed of their charm by well-meaning updaters. Someone got to this house in the 1940s or ’50s, I’m guessing from the kitchen and bath, so any renovation here would ideally involve imagining the original kitchen, pantry, and bathroom and bringing them back. Unmodernized old houses are increasingly precious. If you need another bathroom or a kitchen with stainless and an island, or a family room with a TV over the mantel, buy a newer house instead. I’d put a porta-potty in the backyard before I’d claim a bedroom to add a second bathroom to a truly intact Victorian house.

Brandy June 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm

It looks just like the dollhouse I had as a kid, too! It will be a true gem once someone puts some work (and TLC :-)) into it.

Thanks for sharing, Julia!

Hoyt Clagwell June 22, 2012 at 12:27 am

God, that 60′s/70′s decor… It looks like the perfect place to film an adaptation of some old Ira Levin or John Updike novel…

Ivan June 22, 2012 at 7:49 am

Sorry, but the decor is not 60′s & 70′s is Vi
ctorian and Country from the early 1900. Now the kitchen is from the 60′s and those monster heaters added to the beautiful fireplaces.

Hoyt Clagwell June 22, 2012 at 11:01 am

SORRY, Ivan, you pedantic know-it-all, but the decor is a 60′s/70′s version of Victorian or “country,” with all those Holly Hobbie wallpapers, painted furniture sets, icky light fixtures and faux-colonial Ethan Allen furnishings. The kitchen cabinets are from the 40′s or 50′s.

APB June 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Most the furnishings seem to be antique except for the upholstered faux-colonial set, the light fixtures, some tables that look like plywood or formica, and the carpeting. It’s not great old furniture to begin with; it all looks kind of cheap, and painting it to update it could have happened anywhere in the 20th century. I’m on the fence about whether that pastel medallion wallpaper is “Holly Hobbie” era or original Edwardian, or somewhere in between. I’d like to see it up close. The house is technically Edwardian if built in 1901, so it may not have had the dark woods and decor we associate with older Victorians.

Jessica June 22, 2012 at 1:41 am

Would love to get my hands on this one, rescue it and give it some more love, without changing it’s amazing character…it’s wonderful!
xo J~

Benjamin June 22, 2012 at 1:57 am

I’m not a fan of anything Victorian, especially Architecture. The excessive machine cut adornments just aren’t for me. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest. I have to confess this house is charming and has many good characteristics. The rooms are spacious. The ceiling are high. I love the hardwood floors. The iron work on the exterior is nice. I think I count THREE porches. If it were mine I restore all the woodwork, get rid of the wallpaper, paint all the walls very light even pastel colors, stain the hardwoods a dark color (almost black), install simple to the floor window treatments, and not put a splinter of Victorian furniture in the house. Living in Columbia, Kentucky would be a hard sell though.

Susan in Kentucky June 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Benjamin, have you ever been to Columbia, Kentucky? If so, how long were you there? Your comment seems quite condescending…I hope you did not mean it that way.
Almost black hardwood floors would be quite a contrast with the “very light even pastel colors” you envision on all the walls. And since this is a late-Victorian house (Queen Victoria died in 1901), surely Victorian furniture of some description (“Victorian” covers over 60 years of styles, ranging from Gothic to art nouveau to everything in between) would not be amiss.
Actually, if you’re “not a fan of anything Victorian”, why would you have any interest in this lovely old house?

Bronwyn June 22, 2012 at 3:29 am

I LOVE the wallpaper – really, just the hall one – I would keep a section of it, cos though it may not be truly victorian, I think it is really great! The gingham wallpaper in the pretty white furniture bedroom is lovely too! Okay – the brown stripey stuff is revolting I admit it. If only I could buy the house and transport it across the ocean!

Kristin June 22, 2012 at 9:27 am

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who LOVES the wallpaper!

Erin June 22, 2012 at 10:48 am

I love that foyer wallpaper too. It actually looks completely current- even the color scheme is spot-on with current trends…exactly the kind of style I’d expect to see in an issue of Lonny (if that mag was still around)!

Pamela Porter June 22, 2012 at 3:43 am

My niece attended Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia – it’s a lovely area.

Sally June 22, 2012 at 4:13 am

oooh it’s lovely, I’d snap that up, well i would if I’d already sold my home (on the market now)
It would make such a lovely family home for someone

Kathy June 22, 2012 at 5:39 am

Oh my goodness, my grandmother grew up in Columbia, KY. She met and married my grandmother there in 1933, then they moved to Chicago. She passed away in 1984. I’ve never visited her home town or seen her childhood home but I’ve always imagined she lived in a house just like this one. I hope someone lives in and restores it with love.

Kathy June 22, 2012 at 5:40 am

oops…I meant she met and married my grandFATHER there…

Ann June 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

We knew that’s what you meant! :)

Baileywife June 22, 2012 at 7:18 am

What a DREAM!! That is the most beautiful home….and to think that the owner lived and loved in it for soooo many years is an inspiration and a testimate to a happy home!
Please keep us posted on the results of the sale ~Kim

Jo June 22, 2012 at 7:26 am

I love the big mirror in that one hallway. Cool shape and beveling. Want it!

Sarah @ housecrazy June 22, 2012 at 7:26 am

The house is amazing! The condition it is in is also amazing. This home needs a new owner with a mind for historic preservation – there is a lot to work with in this wonderful home. It is really intriguing that it has NEVER been on the market… what an untouched gem!

The Tiny Homestead June 22, 2012 at 7:35 am

If this was built in 1901 and the owner just died and 101, there’s 10 years that the house was there before the owner was born. I guess it was her family’s home and it passed to her?

I like that blue and green wallpaper and the open, spacious rooms.

hookedonhouses June 22, 2012 at 7:54 am

Yes, I believe what they said was that it had been in the same family all those years.

HobokenVictorian June 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I’m fascinated by the “updates” each generation added!
Kitchen cabinets – 1930′s – 40′s, I’m guessing
Fireplace heater – 50′s or 60s
Wrought iron light fixtures – 1960′s
Carpet – 60′s? 70′s? Its pretty neutral so it might be younger (90′s?)
Painting everything white — *sigh* maybe 60′s at the earliest, but I’m guessing 80′s
Painting old furniture white (hello, fabulous Empire dresser in the bedroom) – 80′s

Our current place is a 1904 Victorian and we have almost identical moldings, fireplaces, and fireplace surrounds/tile. So nice to see it in a bigger house!

Ann June 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm

The 102-year-old owner was born in this house; it was built by her parents. So, yes same family.

Christine Bewley June 22, 2012 at 7:53 am

This is oh so close to me! I think it’s beautiful the way it is and I’m completely freaked that the Realtor is even suggesting that someone purchase it and chop it up into apartments for the local college. I feel that would RUIN a gorgeous 100+ year old home!

Laura June 22, 2012 at 8:43 am

agreed with christine bewley! someone should make that into a little bed & breakfast for visiting college parents, perhaps :)

Lacquered Life June 22, 2012 at 8:48 am

This is a preservationist’s dream. When only one family has lived in a house for that long, it is much easier to trace any changes that might have been made. I love the plumbing fixtures in the bathroom – people patrol salvage yards for sinks and tubs like that. It would be an absolute dream to oversee a restoration like that one.

Tiffany June 22, 2012 at 9:02 am

Sigh…that would be my dream house if I had married a handy man. Ha! I love the whole fixer upper idea but it is stressful. We nearly killed each other just remodeling our kitchen! But it is fun to think about stripping all that wallpaper. What a difference just that would make.

Laura June 22, 2012 at 9:04 am

I would totally keep the wallpaper in the hallway – it’s beautiful. I would also keep a lot in the kitchen, although maybe not the wallpaper. The cabinets are fine though. I hope someone doesn’t buy it and gut it – love the vintage feel.

Stuff and Nonsense June 22, 2012 at 9:43 am

someone please save
this gorgeous home!

shabbychick June 22, 2012 at 9:47 am

I love all the wallpaper!!! Such a pretty house. I would take up the carpeting and put in a “new/old” kitchen, new roof and cosmetic touch ups. It would probably need insulation and maybe new wiring which would require a gut job, though. I’d buy it!

Rachel Reeves June 22, 2012 at 9:48 am

Perhaps I am not as educated on home renovation/preservation, but when I look at this house, I really don’t see all of the changes I would make. I love so much about it, that I would want to keep it as intact as I could. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t repair damage that needed taking care of, but I suppose I’m a purist. I would want to do very little.

I loved everything about it-thank you so much for sharing it with us. She has taken such wonderful care of it-you can really tell from all the sweet touches and accents. Even the placement of the chairs shows thought.

Aria @ TheUglyBarnFarm June 22, 2012 at 9:59 am

Love it!!!! I would first have all the outside repaired – no point in fixing it inside if the outside is bad, like foundation, roof, etc..
I would try to reuse/salvage/repurpose as much as I could of the original house, such as woodwork, wallpaper, lighting, etc..
Inside I would update major things like windows (if need be), plumbing, electrical, insulation. Then I would set about updating the decor: I would paint light colors. Refinish the wood floors. Get rid of the 2nd kitchen. Add another bathroom. Any lighting/plumbing/appliance fixtures that needed updating or replaced would be new but in keeping with the period of the house.
I wouldn’t fill it with heavy, ornate Victorian furniture though. I would keep the furniture a bit more simple, country comfortable. Then I would have big family gatherings there all the time! :)
Such a great house with so much potential!

Connie@Connie Nikiforoff Designs June 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

This would be the house of my dreams! In fact we looked at a couple houses here in our hometown with very similar floor plans. Unfortunately the price was too high (if all the updates were done) or if it was affordable, there was too much to do beyond our DIY skill set. I guess it’ll stay just a dream….. ;-) Lovely house!

Michele June 22, 2012 at 10:14 am

BEAUTIFUL. Such character and history. My sister just bought a house built in 1840 in a small town in NY. Twelve foot ceilings, pockets doors to the “ballroom” (now the living room), stain glass on the landing of the stairs, original mouldings to die for. She works from home in the huge attic which has a finished room that was the maid’s quarters (now her office). Needs work but I am obsessed.

hookedonhouses June 22, 2012 at 10:15 am

Oh, wow. Sounds amazing!

Mary June 22, 2012 at 10:58 am

so much potential – hope someone has enough money to do it justice!
Mary x

Michelle June 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

Such a beautiful home and very close to where I live…in my own old home! There are so many of these older homes in my area that just need some updating and love. I hope a new owner, with the right ideas, scoops this up immediately!

Miss E June 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm

This is exactly the condition home I am looking for in Dallas to update and revive! Something well cared for, but in need of being brought up to the 21st century. If I lived in Kentucky this wouldn’t even be a question. Maybe one of your readers will buy it and be kind enough to send updates. Such a wonderful layout!

Laura @ Cookiecrumbs and June 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Yes, yes, yes, the house deserves to be saved! And at such a low price, someone could afford to buy it and still have enough $ for renovations. I’m guessing to needs far more work than mets the eye. I love the original details.

Thanks for sharing,

Terry June 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

This is a job for Nicole Curtis!!!! Nicki, are you listening?

gena June 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm

What a beautiful house! Someone with lots of time and money could make it a real showplace…. the bones are wonderful, the space is there and the land is amazing!

Of course the first thing I would do is paint it Lavender : D


cbean June 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Now THIS is a house…sigh! (:

Joy June 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I grew up in a home that was built in 1875. It was in my family for 60 years. As I looked at the photo’s of this home I realized in my mind I was “smelling” my childhood home. What a strange reaction!

Janelle Wiens June 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Beautiful! How I wish Kentucky was a tad closer to Saskatchewan:) It would be a dream come true to continue the love in that wonderful home!

Destiny June 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Something tells me that this house has a wonderful soul, and that is something that takes a home generations and generations to grow…

Kim June 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm

What a charming house. There’s so much potential I hope someone with restore it.

Jean June 23, 2012 at 5:52 am

Its so rare to find a historic house that has been in the same family for its entire life, without any major renovations during some period of dubious taste and style. I think this house is a treasure. I live in an old house (1894), in a historic neighborhood in NJ. That house would probably go for twice the price (at least) here. I’ve seen similar houses in similar shape here get bought and restore/renovated, and its an amazing thing to see. Just last night I drove past a house that had been an eyesore, and sold last year, and has been totally transformed on the outside. I’d love to see the inside.

I really hope someone buys it and takes it on.

Screendoorgirl 3 June 23, 2012 at 5:56 am

Oh, I love this house. It reminds me of Forrest Gump’s house in the movie. That porch is so beautiful! I would just freshen everything up and not make too many updates. Even the kitchen cabinets are cute. They would be perfect with those utensil pulls. I love those. I think there’s something wrong with me..I want to rescue that house! Keep us posted on it . I can’t wait to hear about your trip! .. Jodi

snaggy June 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

Can I get it shipped to the UK !

Xenia June 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I agree with those here who think the house should be restored and not renovated. If a person or couple wants a more contemporary home then that is what they should buy. It really irks me when people who prefer contemporary homes purchase these older homes just because the price is lower and then take out all the charming details. Leave them the heck alone for those of us who love and appreciate them.

The house is gorgeous. I love transom windows over the doors all over the house.

Jamie June 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm

What an AWESOME house… love the stain glass :) Julia, it was super nice to meet you this weekend :) Thank you for an awesome session on advertising!!

Linda June 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Neat house! I agree with many, I’m digging on the cool yellow, gray wallpaper that is totally in right now. Wouldn’t have to change that.

I hope a family buys it, loves it and makes it a cozy home for many, many years.

Elvira June 24, 2012 at 3:06 am

What a beauty! The house has indeed been loved and cherished. I do hope it will be bought and restored by people who truly appreciate its worth as it has so many features that modern houses lack.
I’ll be eagerly waiting for updates on this house.

Jessica June 25, 2012 at 10:30 am

It is beautiful, and a lot of it would not need to be changed. I think the kitchen could even be cute with the stained wallpaper removed, new appliances and fresh paint on the cabinets and walls. At least for a short term fix. ;-) I did actually like a lot of the wallpaper, but I know that old houses often have a peculiar odor if all the surfaces (walls, floors, ceilings) are not painted and new flooring put down.
I love the area rugs!

how2home June 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm

This house is beautiful….minus the wall paper but the exterior is phenomenal !

how2home June 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm

add this in the backyard and it will be even more perfect! (

Maria June 30, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I LOVE it and wouldn’t change much of anything! I’d have to take an up close look at that wallpaper, but from here — there would be NO ripping it out even though I’m not fond of the brown one. It would be a joy to see someone love it as is vs. turning it into Pottery Barn, intact homes are really hard to find. It would be wonderful if someone looking for that, bought it and loved it for what it is.

The first thing I’d likely do is put on a roof, fix the ceilings, put in central heat/air and reclaim the fireplaces. For the time being even the kitchen doesn’t need much more than a nice big wood farm table or the like to serve as an island. Other than that some repairs look to be needed, especially outside fix/restore the porch/get rid of the remuddled iron work, but I’d love it and live with the look, at least for a while. Any changes would be in keeping with the original period.

todd July 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I wouldn’t say this house needs saving, just some updating. I also wouldn’t say “only $189,000″. That’s a lot of money. There are many, many people who will never be able to buy a house at that price point. Great house, though. Wish it was in my area and about $100,000 cheaper.

Sharon Reid May 5, 2013 at 10:28 am

I love this house. Hope someone restores it to original look entirely. The kitchen looks fifties to me so I would change it back to an older look. Maybe new paint, sand floors and change wallpaper to something old looking but that I liked better. Other than that it looked great to me. I’d buy in a moment if I lived in the US!

mary smith July 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm


jeff August 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

Only 189k? Per remax, similar homes list at ~124k, and 2011 assessment is 75k (?!), so unless the heirs are willing to come down to a reasonable price, Its not worth it for what it needs. Paint and roof look long in the tooth not to mention whatever surprises lie inside..

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