Scott and Ann Tillman's house is the only private residence selected among the area's historic landmarks for Clay County's Preservation Association annual awards.
Last in a three-part series
Clay County's Preservation Association will be presenting awards to five of the area's historic landmarks today at 7 p.m. at Traditions in downtown Brazil.
Indiana's Southwest Historic Landmarks Foundation representatives will be on hand to congratulate this year's winners: Traditions, Jack's Fine Foods, the Brazil Public Library, the Chafariz Dos Contos fountain at Forest Park and Scott and Ann Tillman's home.
According to Evelyn Brown of the Preservation Association, members nominated a total of 16 locations for the historical awards at their annual February meeting, toured each of the places and voted to determine the five most historically valuable among them "based on standards set by the Historic Landmarks Association."
About two years ago, Scott and Ann Tillman purchased their current residence at 614 N. Meridian St. The house, built in 1890, had been vacant for about a year except for a couple of raccoons in a second-level bedroom. Despite water-damaged floors and walls, cracked ceilings and faulty electrical wiring, Scott says they "saw potential in saving it." Happily, their optimistic outlook has not proved unrealistic.
As Scott remembers, they first became interested in the house because they were looking for a larger place. It just happened to be on the market and they "both fell in love with it and had to have it." The three-level house now shows very little evidence of its previous state of neglect. The Tillmans have transformed its over 5,000 square feet into a beautiful home that they share with their two children, Alexa, age 4, and Bryce, age 1.
The Tillmans initially hired contractors to help with some of the work that required a professional, such as updating the electric wiring and fixing the radiators. With the more pressing issues resolved, they have basically gone from room to room and taken care of the most important repairs first.
Their main objective is to maintain a style consistent with the period in which the house was built. Therefore, they have tried to preserve its original features whenever possible. For example, existing spindles on the staircase, ceramic tiles in the bathroom and fixtures throughout the house have been refurbished and those missing have been replaced with replicated items. Also most of the woodwork was in decent shape.
On the other hand, most of the six bedrooms had to be gutted. Walls had to be replastered and ceilings had to be reworked. Of course, new carpet and wallpaper was needed in most of the rooms. Still, they have done all decorating as close to the style at the turn of the century as possible.
The old kitchen cabinets were basically a lost cause. A few other aspects of the house have been updated for modern convenience. Some of the closets have been made a bit larger, one full bathroom has been turned into a laundry room and half-bath and railing has been added on the third level for safety purposes. Also a wall was taken out of the kitchen to make it more "functional."
The Tillmans both work in Terre Haute and are raising two small children, so the completion of the project may take some time. Although they seem to have many ideas for the unfinished portions of the home, life has forced them to speak of some plans in terms of "eventually" and "another year's project." The third level is currently serving as a combination rec room/family room/kid's play room and a carriage house in the back is being used for storage, but in time, these will also be renovated. The only original feature that will not be replaced is an elevator, which was removed by a previous owner in the 1980s or 90s.