Historic Preservation

Our home was built in 1893 for $6,000. Where possible we have tried to remain true to the original architecture and techniques while upgrading and restoring the house.

Exterior Paint

If we win the lottery we may pay to have the original color scheme researched by forensic paint analysis. Short of that we have repainted the house using a color palette we thought appropriate to the period. After starting we found several of our colors underneath the aluminum siding that was added – probably in the 1950s or 1960s. Climbing around on ladders and scaffold get’s less and less enjoyable, but we continue to try to maintain and enhance the paint scheme over time. Our son-in-law Graham and his brother painted the the peak and rounded opening at the top of the house in 2016 – thanks guys!.

This was the paint when we bought the house.


In 2016 we redid the front yard and driveway, adding a retaining wall and widening the front walk. In looking at other historic houses around town we believe the retaining wall was appropriate to the landscape and was probably skipped originally due to budgetary constraints.


The house did not have electricity when built. Beneath the floors and in the walls was a network of galvanized gas lines to feed gas light fixtures. Carthage Water and Electric was founded in 1900, so electricity was added some time after that. We think this light fixture to be the only remaining original gas fixture in the house. It was converted to electric at some point before we bought the house.

The original wiring was knob and tube. In the picture below the panel in the wall on the middle left of the shot was the original fuse box.

We have extensively rewired the house to modern standards. The light fixtures in these pictures have been rewired as well as the lines that feed them. The wall plugs in the bedroom shot (E.B. White room, part of the Suite and originally the nursery off the master bedroom) were rewired when remodeling the room after roof damage allowed water to stain the ceiling and walls.

Replacing Lost Items

Over the years elements of the house were lost. – most regrettably the turret on the North-East corner. We’d like to replace it someday, but the cost may be prohibitive.

Where possible we try to find period appropriate replacements. The fireplace mantle had been replaced by brick painted pink and a slab of concrete – we found the mantle below in an antique shop on Cherokee Street in St. Louis, and the tile came from a historic property in New York City.

Jeanne found this light fixture in an antique store on the Carthage Square.

Painted Trim

At some point previous owners decided to paint the woodwork. It probably felt to them as though it really brightened the place and gave it a more modern look. We have removed the paint in a few rooms and love the original wood. The labor to do this is extensive, but the results are worth it!

Walls and Ceilings

When working on the drawing room, dining room, Hawthorne room, the upstairs hallway, and all of the bathrooms we have stripped the old wallpaper (much of which had been painted over) down to bare plaster or in cases where a previous owner had done some work, drywall. When possible we have stabilized and restored the plaster and added wallpaper of period style.

This rounded corner had to be extensively rebuilt.

The rounded corner opposite the one above only needed minor touch up.


The older we get the more we seem to sag, certain surgically enhanced Hollywood stars being the exception. The house originally had a wooden gutter system built into the trim at the top of the house. It also had a shake-shingle roof. At some point a previous owner had the roof replaced with modern composite shingles and the roofers shingled right over the gutters. As a result water ran down a valley and washed out the foundation in several places, the most severe of which is just outside the dining room door..

The settling caused problems throughout the south wall of the house. In 2004 we had the 14″ thick rock foundation stabilized and lifted to the extent possible. The floors are still a bit uneven on that side of the house, although they were able to lift the house 4 inches before they felt there as a risk to the rocks in the foundation shifting as the lift occurred. The door below between the master bedroom (Mark Twain Room) and nursery (E.B. White Room) sill shows evidence of the settling that could not be remediated.


The house probably had an outhouse in the back yard originally. There was a room with a bathtub off the kitchen – now it is the bathroom for the Laura Ingalls Wilder room. When we remodeled the bathrooms we used 1″ hexagonal porcelain tile and wall tile we believe would fit the Victorian theme. In the Wilder, Twain, and Alcott bathrooms we have also used antique wash stands or dressers for the sink bases. Aside from that we firmly believe the builders of the Victorian era would have used the modern fixtures of today had they been available, which is what we have done.

Wilder Bathroom

The bathrooms for the Alcott and Twain rooms were formerly closets.

Twain Bathroom

Alcott Bathroom

The Hawthorne room had a tiny closet similar to the one in White, which we removed. It was in the corner where the two person Jacuzzi tub is now placed. The bathroom we just carved out of the room itself.