3rd floor bathroom (small) progress update!

This darn bathroom remodel upstairs for the Airbnb suite has thrown us for quite a loop! I suppose we should be totally used to it by now though!

If you haven’t seen any before photos of the upstairs bathroom here are a few:

Here’s one with the steel stall removed:

Our original idea was to break into the sewer pipe where the giant urinal was to change the fittings to a toilet fitting. You’ll have to excuse my total lack of knowing the official names for these things- that’s definitely Atom’s territory and not mine! When Atom broke through the concrete floor down to it he discovered it was a galvanized sewer pipe and it was much smaller than he anticipated.

Yikes.

So that plan wasn’t going to work.

We were going to patch the concrete after removing the urinal and level it out with a new thin concrete layer. However when he broke into it he discovered there were two separate layers of concrete with a filling of rubble thrown in between the layers.

The top concrete layer is approx 4” thick and the lower one is also several inches thick with steel reinforcement mesh. So in total the floor is about 14-16” deep. Yikes. Here is a photo with most of the first layer of concrete removed.

The next hurdle was figuring out which old water pipe went where so they could be updated as nothing in the building is mapped out anywhere at all. That took an entire afternoon to figure out and involved many three way calls with our boys while turning off & on different water valves. Talk about a headache!

This bathroom floor is directly above the second floor foyer and we will be unable to pour a complete new concrete floor due to the weight since it is not a small bathroom. We will have to build new joists to fill the space and add a subfloor and then decide if we want to tile etc.

So what does all of this mean?

This floor/pipe issue has set us back quite a bit on our timeline because this is back breaking work getting all of the layers of concrete removed. It is going to take more time (and money!) than we anticipated to get this sucker done. We ask for patience as we are going as fast as we can. Things are looking more promising for a winter/spring official opening of the Airbnb suite. From the world coming to a standstill for a few months and us not going to the hardware store to get supplies during that time and now this added huge flooring project we are quite a bit behind our loosely based reno schedule.

We’ll get there though! It’s all part of the adventure. Story of our lives!

A Pop of Color!

In addition to our major renovation projects we have a very long list of smaller “weekend projects” that we never seem to get to because the larger projects take up so much of our time. Last week we decided to finally do something with the outside/front of the building. I had asked on our facebook and Instagram pages I think a year or so ago for ideas for what color to paint the three front doors. We knew we wanted to add a pop of color to make the building look more inviting. My issue was when it came down to it I was torn between a few different shades of the color I envisioned. So I basically just kept pushing it off so I wouldn’t have to make a final decision. (Who else can relate there?!)

Ok I’m rambling at this point. Let’s get to it.

Here is a before photo (which was actually taken right before we moved in but nothing changed out front in the 3 years besides adding flower beds.

This is what it looks like now!

I was so torn between either a deep teal or navy blue for the doors. Teal won the internal battle I was having for the past year. Even though I loved the color on the paint swatch, I was soooo nervous to see how it would turn out in the end. We know that teal may not be a color choice for everyone’s front doors but we LOVE IT!

We added a couple large flower pots and planted some lavender in the center and flowers around it. Makes it smell so good when approaching the doors!

We made a couple pretty neat discoveries when sprucing up the front of the building. The metal kick plates on the fronts of the doors that had been painted white for who knows how many years are actually solid brass! We stripped the decades of paint off and Atom sanded and buffed them to a mirror shine. The brass really makes the teal on the doors pop even more and ties it all together!

I laugh at that photo of Atom wearing the swim goggles every time I see it because it’s so funny! His regular eye protection/goggles were fogging up too much due to the humidity so he grabbed one of our pairs of swim goggles and they ended up working surprisingly well!

The original light fixtures out front are also brass and we polished them as well. To be honest I think I actually liked the patina better vs the polished version so I’m pretty sure we will let them all re-patina over time.

Probably the coolest discovery with this weekend project was Atom’s discovery up on the little platform above the doors. There is really neat ironwork across in that area and Atom was wire brushing it so he could add a fresh coat of black paint because the old paint was peeling and flaking off. As he started brushing, he immediately realized that the vertical strips of what look like flowers are actually solid bronze! Fun fact- Atom worked for a number of years in a bronze foundry when he was a teenager so he is trained to spot bronze immediately. After several applications of heavy duty paint stripper and some buffing/polishing, the flowers look STUNNING!! (These photos were taken before the rest was painted with a fresh coat of black paint.)

It feels like an entirely new home! It’s amazing what a pop of color can do!

Wishing you all a fun, safe, and socially distant 4th of July!

Spring, is that you?

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that these past two months have been super weird. The world as we know it has changed and priorities have shifted. In addition to slowly working on the future Airbnb suite upstairs, we have been working on other various projects throughout the building and sort of playing catch up. Anyone who is a homeowner can relate that there are usually multiple projects going on at the same time. Story of our lives.

We planted some gorgeous hydrangea bushes out front, our tulips have all bloomed and we have so many stargazer stalks starting to peek through the surface. If you remember, stargazers are my absolute favorite flower!

I was so excited to put the hydrangeas in the ground and out of their pots that I didn’t even take into account that it was only the beginning of April and not after Mother’s Day. Whoops! Live and learn for next year! We had a decent snow on April 17th and it killed the hydrangea blooms so we cut them back and are keeping our fingers crossed that they will come back next year. I guess we are still somewhat in the mindset of california planting where you can basically plant anything year round.

Easter was different this year as I’m sure it was for you too. We had an indoor egg hunt for our kids and it took them an entire hour to find all 100 of them up on the third floor! We watched church online which has become the norm. I can’t wait until we are able to congregate together as a church family and Atom & I can both get back to playing guitar and singing on the worship team.

Atom has started working on the full wall mural in our oldest son’s room. He has started sketching out the design that our son came up with and will be working on it little by little. It’s going to be spectacular and really capture what he loves. Here’s what the wall looked like when the base coat of pale yellow was added last week.

We busted open the rear roof hatch last week since the weather was nice and Atom built a new opening and extremely sturdy heavy duty ladder to get up to the back part of the roof. I think the “secret staircase” had more action in those couple days than it has had in nearly 100 years!

It is finally really starting to feel like spring and the trees all around town are in full bloom and are really a sight to see. I think I love spring as much as I do fall in this state! We have taken many walks/hikes as a family and even Paul Hewson has been out a few times now that he is used to his harness.

The basement has become a favorite space for all of us lately- we have been doing A LOT of rollerblading and playing games as well as working out as a family. It’s a fantastic stress reliever!

Our oldest son (age 12) spent many days using both of his 3D printers to make mask ear savers for my coworkers at the hospital. He truly has a servants heart and we are so proud of him. My coworkers were very grateful!

Speaking of work, I’m still working the frontlines in the fight against covid19. We are fortunate that our area of the country hasn’t been hit as hard unlike New York and other large cities. It is still stressful but we’re powering through. My family and friends have been so supportive and I have received a few care packages that brought tears to my eyes!

As if I am not already at the hospital enough when I’m working, I had to spend the night this past Monday/Tuesday as a patient. My body freaked out and decided to short circuit and knock my electrolyte levels critically out of whack which royally ticked off my already grumpy heart and earned me an overnight stay. It is weird being on the other side as a patient in my own hospital, but I will say there is no other place I’d rather be than in the extremely capable and compassionate hands of my incredible coworkers/friends. They truly are the best and I am blessed beyond words to have them in my life. I’ll spare you the gnarly photos of how bruised my arms are from the bazillion blood draws I had to constantly check my levels. I am feeling so much better and will have a lot more testing in my future (I have an amazing medical team) but that’s just how I roll and it’s all good. Not my first rodeo! I am thankful for a handful of days off to rest and let my body recover.

I hope y’all are staying well and safe!

Airbnb suite progress update!

In this time of sheltering in place Atom has been hard at work on several different projects we have going at the same time. Since we aren’t making any unnecessary trips to the store for building materials/supplies, so we are making do with what we have on hand for the time being. It has taken quite awhile to remove the ceiling in the airbnb “Egyptian” room as well as some of the plaster from the walls. For reference if you forgot this is what the room looked like after the carpet was pulled up & before we started the walls etc.

Similar to the removal of the basement ceiling that took nearly a year and wasn’t easy, the ceiling upstairs took some time and serious strength from Atom to get it all down. Here are some in progress photos.

Unfortunately we were unable to save the mural work on two of the walls as the plaster was literally crumbling off and falling off in giant sheets so there was no way to even attempt to repair it. We rigged up this makeshift debris shoot out of trash cans and super thick painters plastic (which we later replaced with a heavy duty tarp) and it worked like a charm to drop the construction stuff off the fire escape and straight down to the dumpster! Sure beats hauling it all down the stairs!

This is what the room currently looks like:

I want to keep the exposed brick on the far shorter wall (y’all know how much I love brick!) but the rest will be covered along with a new ceiling and insulation added to help with temperature management.

On Monday, I did what was quite possibly the hardest workout of my life. Atom and I carried 1,000 lbs of drywall up three flights of stairs for the room. It took a total of 14 trips which is the equivalent of 42 stories. I’ve done a few stair climb races in the past for the American Lung Association in the past and this was so much more difficult. Every inch of my body was so sore the next day and is still sore today but I am pretty darn proud of myself! Tuesday I made this shirt for myself to adequately sum up how I’ve been feeling lately.

We are hoping to stay on track and get the suite done as fast as we can all things considered. But this is basically a complete gut and start over with this particular room/bathroom so it’s going to take time. Next we will be starting to attach the drywall and add insulation to the room as well as demo the adjoining bathroom to get it ready for its remodel.

Hope you all are staying safe and healthy!

Cheers to 3 Years!!

Whoa.

Today marks our third anniversary of living in the building! This past year has been an eventful one for sure! Looking back on my facebook memories from 2017 right before we moved I am immediately flooded with so many emotions that I felt as we were in our final stages of packing and saying good bye to our life in San Diego. I remember feeling sad to leave our friends and family, excited to start our renovating adventure and scared of the unknown.

I remember the moment at 1:30am when we arrived to our new gigantic home after driving for 36 hours straight and feeling a surge of energy and excitement! And then about 30 min later the pipes burst in the boiler room if any of y’all have been here since the beginning and remember that story!

I’m not going to lie and say our renovation journey has been all sunshine and rainbows. But we have made the best of if and absolutely love our life here in Indiana. Gosh we love Indiana so much! Our children are thriving, we have made some incredible friends and have a loving church community. This past year has been a rollercoaster of emotions. We’ve had some amazing highs and scary lows, from my parents retiring and moving to Indiana to Atom’s melanoma cancer diagnosis.

Our house renovation pages gained national and international attention which was incredible! I never thought in a million years I would have Insider and Atlas Obscura magazine among many others contacting me asking for interviews for feature stories about our renovation project.

I’m a numbers gal and love stats. In honor of our third anniversary of being Indiana residents and living in the mansion I wanted to give you some of the numbers for this blog in particular. I looked at the stats and it absolutely blows my mind! If you have a blog of your own through wordpress I would highly recommend looking at your stats. It’s super fascinating! In 2019 this blog had 81,103 total views. Pretty incredible! So far 4.5 months into 2020, we’ve had 60,392 views! WHAT?!? There are people from 147 countries who have viewed our blog in the past year alone. In total since I started the blog in early 2017, there have been 198,496 total views.

The follower count on our Facebook renovation page jumped over 20,000 followers just in the past year and are now over 30,000! Our Instagram page currently has 13.3k followers.

All of this is so incredibly humbling and I feel like I can’t quite put it into words how grateful and blessed we are. Never in our wildest dreams did we think our little (ok not so little) renovation project would gain international attention and we would have the most amazingly supportive followers/friends. I’ve said it before so I apologize if I sound like a broken record, but we really appreciate the love and support and at times it is what keeps this blog going. Y’all are like family to us! We read every single comment we get on all of our platforms. Even the ones that are trying to recruit us to join the Illuminati and become rich and famous. I read those and then delete/ban them but they’re funny when it happens.

Cheers to 3 years friends! Thanks for coming along for the ride and we hope you continue to follow along with us for many more to come! We are thankful for each and every one of you!

Just Keep Swimming

I wanted to share something here on the blog that I wrote and shared on Facebook the other day:

“As Respiratory Therapists we are on the absolute FRONT LINES of this covid19 crisis. This is our time to shine and do what we do best. What we always do but are rarely recognized for. We are the first ones there when a patient comes into the ER and can’t breathe. We intubate and breathe for you and make sure you stay alive along with an incredible team of nurses and doctors. We don’t do it for the recognition or pat on the back. We do it because it is our absolute passion and calling and can’t imagine doing anything else.”

(P.S. this is a Snapchat filtered photo and it’s not a real face mask 😉)

These past two weeks in particular are unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my 20 year healthcare career. While our specific area hasn’t been hit with covid19 hard yet, we know it’s coming. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Working in healthcare is a stressful enough job (especially working in the ER) on a regular day, but dealing with the global pandemic adds an additional layer of unfathomable stress. We have multiple briefings every day as the covid19 situation is changing so incredibly fast that the CDC and WHO are constantly changing the recommenced guidelines as things unfold in real time globally. Don’t even get me started on the n95 mask critical shortage. Walking around in the hospital you can feel it in the air- the tension, stress and fear. It’s one of the most eerie things I’ve ever felt.

I’m not going to go into specifics about the virus other than it is serious. Very serious. It’s not “just like the flu.” People need to take precautions seriously so we flatten the curve. Social distancing isn’t a suggestion. It’s 100% a necessity.

I am exhausted. Today was my day off and I haven’t done a darn thing. I needed today to rest and catch up. Tomorrow I’ll be back at the hospital doing what I do best while also trying to protect my own vulnerable lungs and heart from any potential exposure I could possibly come into contact with.

Our kids are handling being off school really well. We are thankful they are already accustomed to e-learning from past snow days and are happy to have plenty of room to play in the building. Hats off to all who homeschool their kids! Y’all are saints!

Atom spent the morning driving the school bus with a few other school district volunteers delivering food care packages to families who needed it. He will have plenty of time to work on projects here, specifically the demo of the Egyptian room/future Airbnb suite over the next month and a half minimum while school is out.

We don’t know what will happen over the next few weeks & months. That is a fact. In the mean time we are going to make the most of extra family time (when I’m not working at the hospital) starting with some situationally appropriate board games.

Stay safe friends. So much love and prayers to you all.

We’ll get through this.

Jerry the Snowman

A hilarious prank occurred back on Valentine’s Day evening while Atom and I were on a double dinner date with some friends. Before I tell this funny story I’ll have to give you some background. We got a decent amount of snow on February 12th which led to a snow day for our kids (and Atom) on the 13th. The snow was the perfect consistency to build a gigantic snow igloo as well as a snowman. Atom and our kids spent all day long (and I mean ALL DAY- they were completely committed) building a massive 6 foot tall igloo. It was so amazing to see when I got home from work that night! I could stand up inside of the thing!

It took them so long to finish it, with its 8” thick walls that they only had enough time to make a smaller snowman (that they named Jerry) before I got home, complete with an old bicycle helmet. Nice touch, kids.

Atom sprayed both the igloo and Jerry with water after they were completed. It got well below freezing that night and Jerry froze solid.

Ok back to Valentines night. We walked to our favorite restaurant in town and I snapped this photo as we walked past it to dinner to show our friends.

We returned from dinner to see this:

We were scratching our heads trying to figure out where he went! He was a solid block of ice so he wasn’t smashed or anything and his helmet was left at the scene.

We looked all over the place and I just happened to turn around and spotted him.

After we composed ourselves from the hysterical laughter, Atom set out on a rescue mission.

Jerry unfortunately lost both of his arms and one eye in the ordeal. He was relocated to a safer spot closer to the front door and given new arms.

We reviewed our security cameras and uncovered what happened. A couple of high school aged kids were walking down the street when they saw the igloo and decided to check it out. After being inside for just a couple minutes, they came back out and stood next to Jerry. One of them picked him up and they ran across the street before setting him on the corner, patted him on the head and left. Absolutely hilarious!

Unfortunately Jerry melted two days later when the temperatures warmed up.

Till next year, Jerry. We will build you again and see where you go on your adventures!

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

We are only two months into 2020 and we have been incredibly busy! I posted in January after the Insider article about our project went viral and there has been quite a snowball effect of media inquiries since then. It has been quite overwhelming! My inbox was flooded with news station requests, other online news websites, NPR, podcast requests, newspaper reporters, paranormal groups wanting to investigate our building and the list goes on and on and on. At one point I had to shut down my computer and walk away and ignore it for awhile because it was just so much.

One media request that we did reply back to was a local new station here in Indiana wanting to shoot a story. We agreed and our house was invaded (in a good way!) with the news crew of guys and all of their cameras and equipment. Through my initial contact with the reporter we were told that they would film for a couple hours with us for a lifestyle segment on the 6pm news that would air a couple weeks later. When they arrived, Atom and I gave a quick walkthrough of the entire building and the anchor quickly realized there was no way they could fit our story into a 2 1/2 minute segment due to the size of the building and everything they wanted to film in addition to interviews.

We filmed with them for three and a half hours that day and they asked to come back a few days later to shoot more B-roll footage.

We had so much fun with the camera crew and here are a few photos I took from “behind the scenes” that day:

One of our bengals, Paul Hewson was VERY curious and wanted to be in the middle of the action and made himself comfy on the news anchors lap!

The story led the 6pm news as the feature on Monday, Feb 17th. It was 6 1/2 minutes long! We had an extra large Monday night dinner/viewing party to watch.

Here are a few photos from the story:

If you aren’t local and/or didn’t see the feature, here is a link. Click here. There is a second video clip within the article that features our sons bedroom now that he is all moved in.

Here are a few other links to things that have been written about us since January:

We did an interview with Atlas Obscura and they wrote a really great article. Click here.

A radio station in southern Indiana wrote up an article as well. Click here.

A facebook follower sent me a link to an article put out by Bored Panda about buildings that have been repurposed and our house made the list. Pretty neat! Click here.

I did an interview for a San Diego friends podcast called Pieces of Grit which will air later this month!

These interviews have merely scratched the surface and over time I’ll continue to slowly respond to the pile of media requests we still have. Our Facebook page has surpassed 30,000 followers and climbing! Pretty wild for sure! This blog has over 2,500 subscribers as well which absolutely blows my mind! If you have seen our house anywhere on the internet please send us a link!

I know I say this a lot but thanks for sticking around as we continue to document this amazing life changing journey! Hard to believe in April we will have lived in the building for three years!

Stay tuned for a fun story about the night our snowman, Jerry was kidnapped!

Theresa

Monday Night Dinner

Last night we started a new tradition here in Indiana, one that is very near and dear to our hearts. When we lived in San Diego, our longtime dear friends would host a “Monday night dinner” (MND) every week and we attended for many years. It was always such a fun time of friendship and sharing a meal together. Super informal and nothing fancy, just food and friends. We are very excited to carry on this tradition/ministry here with our friends and neighbors!

There is just something magical about hanging out with a community of people each week. There is no pressure for our friends to come every week- just come when they can. We prepare the meal so no need to worry about cooking for that one day. We gather at 6pm, eat at 6:30pm and everyone is back home by 8pm since it is a school/work night. Easy peasy.

For our first MND, we made a simple Mexican lasagna which is a household favorite and one that is even better the next day (isn’t it the same with regular lasagna?!), Atom’s amazing Mexican rice, and a garden salad.

Mexican lasagna is so incredibly easy to make and doesn’t cost much at all. Here’s what you’ll need:

-Chicken (sometimes we will also use ground turkey as well)

-Corn tortillas (you can also use flour but we don’t think it tastes as good)

-Salsa, any variety.

-Shredded cheese

-Sour cream

-Black olives

(Preheat the oven to 400 degrees)

We use a medium sized disposable foil baking pan but you could make it in any deeper type or size of pan. Pre cook the chicken and shred or chop into small pieces. We usually season the chicken as it’s cooking with garlic & onion. You’ll start by layering the tortillas on the bottom to completely cover the pan. You’ll have to break a couple in half in order to cover it all the way. Then spread a thin-ish layer of salsa over the tortillas. You can either add a dollop of sour cream with the salsa or save it to add once it is cooked and served. Both ways work. Next layer the chicken, shredded cheese and black olives. Then repeat, starting with a layer of the tortillas and so on. I will usually just do two full layers and top with tortillas and cheese at the top. Then pop it in the oven for about 20-30 min. Since everything is cooked it’s just a matter of time for the cheese to melt and it all to get hot and crispy on top.

It is seriously the easiest thing ever to make and so delicious. Y’all know how I feel about tacos and this is like a delicious taco lasagna pie. Sometimes we will also add green bell peppers and onions, corn, and black beans as well. You can literally add anything you want/or change it up depending on your taste.

Here are some photos of the process:

I want to encourage y’all to invite a friend or neighbor over for dinner on a weeknight. Don’t worry about preparing a 10 course fancy meal, just something easy. Having time to connect with other people over a meal is very powerful and impactful. Who knows, maybe you’ll even start your own Monday night dinner tradition!

FAQ’s- You Asked, We Answered!

Ever since we purchased the building and even before we started renovations, we have constantly been fielding questions. I totally get it- it’s not a typical renovation project and the whole mystery surrounding the building and it’s history is quite perplexing!

Recently over on our Facebook and Instagram pages I did an “ask me anything” post and the response was absolutely amazing! Hundreds of comments and questions were asked on those posts and I wanted to compile the most common ones here in one place on the blog. I’ll start with the top 3 most asked and then add the rest after that.

TOP 3 MOST ASKED QUESTIONS:

1.) How much does it cost to heat the building?

I literally get asked this question a minimum of ten times per day and that is not an exaggeration. I actually have a typed out response that I’ve saved on my phone because it’s easier to just copy and paste rather than type it all out. Our first winter in the building when we actually lived here it was an interesting experience trying to figure out how to make the 73 original windows less drafty even with the storm windows closed. So that winter our highest gas bill was $450 for the month of January. Since then, our winter gas bill averages $250/month. Our winter electric bill is also averages around $250/month. I actually went back and looked at our monthly bills to verify the actual averages. The building has 5 separate high capacity high efficiency central heaters and 6 separate central a/c units. We can pick and choose what parts of the building to heat/cool and to what temperatures. We generally only really heat/cool the second floor as that is where our “house level” is. The building is built out of stone, steel and brick so it is naturally incredibly well insulated. The basement stays in the low 60s Fahrenheit during the summer on its own when it is very hot and humid outside.

2.) Why did you leave sunny San Diego and move to the Midwest? (aka WHY INDIANA?)

The quick answer is “why not?!” Atom and I were both born and raised in San Diego so it was all we knew. It is a beautiful paradise to live in! We felt that we wanted to move somewhere where we could spend more time with our kids and get away from the big city and try something new. We both had successful careers and lived very comfortably in a nice part of town with a house that we loved. We felt the urge to leave about 8 years ago but didn’t know where we wanted to go. The tie to Indiana came from my mom’s side of the family. My mom spent part of her childhood living in Indiana before they settled in Southern California for good when she was in high school. We would go to Indiana many times when I was growing up for family reunions etc and I always loved the beauty of the Midwest. Texas, Missouri and Washington state were also on our short list of places to potentially move to in case you were wondering.

3.) Is the building haunted?

If you have been following this blog for awhile (and our facebook and instagram pages) you will know a little bit about my background with paranormal investigating. I have been ghost bustin’ for going on 15 years now and professionally on a TAPS team for 7 years. I have had thousands of experiences that I cannot logically or scientifically explain and therefore absolutely believe that ghosts are real. But I will not try to convince you of such. Everyone needs to have their own experiences and come to their own conclusions. I was a skeptic for a very long time until I had my first experience. So back to the building. Is it haunted? We think so. All five of us have had experiences in the building that cannot be logically explained. Yes it is an old building and we will hear settling noises and such during the day and night. That isn’t what I’m referring to. I’m referring to the shadow people I’ve seen several times, the bare footprints that were between the third and fourth floor where no one goes that is very dusty that abruptly stop halfway up. The full bodied apparition of a man in the basement that I was convinced was Atom until I realized he was in the kitchen and not the basement. The incredibly difficult to open and close glass front bookcase doors in the library that will randomly be open after I securely closed them the night before. Need I go on? The activity isn’t constant though, its not like we live in a scary haunted house. We will go months without any activity and then something might happen and then back to radio silence of sorts for months again. Sometimes it is frequent for a few days to a few weeks. Having my background in paranormal investigating, my TAPS team focused solely on scientific investigating. 95% of what people perceive as being paranormal can be actually easily explained. Our kids aren’t scared. I’ve had many talks with them about how the vast majority of living people are good people and when good people die they don’t automatically become scary mean malicious ghosts if that makes sense. (If you want to read more about our resident ghosts click here).

How did you find the building?

In the summer of 2016 we were in Indiana for another family reunion and knew at that time we wanted to for sure move out of California in the next few years. We stayed an extra week after family festivities to drive all over the the state to look at old farmhouse type properties with lots of land just to get an idea of what to expect when it comes to prices (which were a fraction of home prices in San Diego. Our jaws were literally on the floor while looking.) We just so happened to be driving through a town after looking at a farm property and we were captivated by the town and how cheap houses were and we turned a corner and saw the building with a “for sale” sign out front. Literally that’s how we found it. We most definitely weren’t looking for anything like this. It found us. (To read more about how much of an incredibly faith building journey it was for us, click here).

How much did we pay for the building?

$89k

What is the building zoned?

Lucky for us, the building has always been zoned residential (R2) since it was built. It is literally in the middle of a neighborhood.

What do we do for a living?

I am a Respiratory Therapist and have been one for 16 years. My career is my absolute passion. I have severe asthma myself so my career was an easy choice. I am also a writer and write medical content (both as an advocate and as a licensed medical professional) for an asthma, COPD and heart failure website as well as moderate their online forums. Atom is a school bus driver and has been doing that for the past year. While I make enough money to support us and our renovations, we wanted to do them a bit faster so Atom started working this past school year. Since we are renovating debt free, we budget each month and decide what we can afford to do for that particular month. His job is so great for him because he absolutely loves kids and being a positive role model in their lives but it also gives him a nice chunk of time between routes to be home working on renovations. Prior to moving to Indiana Atom had a very successful job working for the local utility company and is extremely skilled in gas line work, construction, electrician work, and operating cranes to name a few. He’s definitely a jack of all trades which has sure come in handy with the building!

Do we have any regrets since moving in?

Nope! I do miss San Diego Mexican food terribly, but we make some pretty darn authentic tacos, tamales, and fresh corn and flour tortillas which helps fill that void. I may have grown up as a California city girl, but small town Midwest has absolutely stolen my heart.

How do you decide what projects to do next?

It’s different every time. It just kind of depends on necessity I guess. At any given point we have no less than a dozen projects in varying stages of being done. Many of the projects need time between for paint to dry etc so we work on things as time allows. Our priority number one when we first moved into the building was to renovate the bathroom on the second floor to include a shower since there weren’t any shower/tubs in any of the 6 bathrooms.

Any secret rooms or passages?

We are asked this quite often. The answer is no. We have all of the original hand drawn plans. There is a set of back stairs that lead from the access hallway on the third floor to a small area of the fourth floor. We refer to it as the “secret staircase” only because if you didn’t know how to get to it you probably wouldn’t easily find it. But it’s not hidden by a bookshelf or wall or anything like that.

Did you sage the building &/or have it blessed before you moved in?

Nope we sure didn’t. No need to as it is not an evil space. Everyone has some degree of intuition. You know how you can sometimes feel the tension in the room or good energy in another? Have you ever been somewhere and had the feeling like you needed to leave immediately? I can tell you with 100% certainty none of us ever felt any negative or scary energies when walking through the building when it was for sale. If I even had the slightest uneasy feeling there is no way we would have bought it & moved ourselves and our children in. I think it’s human nature to automatically think that just because an organization has secrets that those secrets must be bad or demonic or whatever. The masons that we dealt with throughout the process of buying the building and moving in were some of the most kind and caring people we have ever met. One other thing people tend to do is think that we are associated with freemasonry. We are not associated with the Freemason organization in any way. We merely stumbled across an incredible historical property and jumped at the chance to save it from being demolished.

Why did the masons sell their building?

The masons are still very much alive & well with their organization here in town. They decided to sell their building because with the aging members, they were literally having to carry the elderly men up to the third floor for meetings. Putting in an elevator would have cost a fortune in a building as big as this. Since the member count isn’t as high as it was in previous decades they didn’t need a building as large and moved to a smaller one story place.

How many rooms are in the building?

This is a really hard question to answer. The building isn’t set up traditionally. There are many open spaces and very tall ceilings throughout the entire four stories plus the basement. Even the rooms we are using as bedrooms are on average 20x30ft so much larger than a traditional bedroom. If you never saw our original live walkthrough video I did in 2016 right after we closed escrow (6 months before we moved in) click here.

How long until the renovations are complete?

Never? Haha! This will more than likely be a lifelong or at least several decade long project until we get it completely done and exactly how we want it. It’s a bit slower of a process since we are doing the renovations completely by ourselves and debt free as I have stated before. So I would say we are approx 6% done at this point? We have a long way to go and are absolutely loving the wild ride it has been! This project is a labor of love and I still pinch myself often & ask myself how did we get so lucky to be living this life?

I better stop there with the FAQ’s as this post is already super long. Whoops! If you have other burning questions let us know and I will more than likely make a part 2 in the future!