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?
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!