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Liberty Haskins House On National Registrar Of Historic Homes

The Liberty Haskins House, at 625 Canal Rd., is one of six featured in Saturday’s Historic Homes of Waterville Tour, organized by the Waterville Historical Society.
The Liberty Haskins House, at 625 Canal Rd., is one of six featured in Saturday’s Historic Homes of Waterville Tour, organized by the Waterville Historical Society.

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — In an early 1900s photo, a boy stands by the Miami and Erie Canal, shading his eyes. Up the hill, standing alone in the background, is an impressive three-story brick home. That Second Empire-style home, named for Waterville businessman Liberty Haskins, is now one of several on Canal Road and is among the six featured in the Saturday, July 17 Historic Hvomes of Waterville tour. Jason and Ruth Zajac closed on the house in 2005, the day before their twins were born. Last week, Jason stood in the entrance to the gutted second-floor bathroom and shared how the past 12 years have included many updates. “We’re going through a massive renovation, and it won’t be done in time for the tour,” he explained. “It’s a work in progress. But it has spectacular character.” Visitors will still marvel at the 4,500-square-foot home at 625 Canal Rd., built with three courses of brick separated with a space for air. “That’s the 1878 version of insulation,” Jason said, adding that plaster covered the interior bricks. When a Mr. Benner, a lumberman, bought the house in 1946, he had the plaster chiseled out in some areas in order to affix wood paneling, including rooms with knotty pine without the knots – a type of wood no longer available. Later, an owner put wallpaper over nearly every inch of the paneling, after filling in the grooves to make the surface smooth. The Viviano family bought the home in 1966 and two parlors were opened up into one living room, where a fireplace was added and the cherry staircase enlarged. In 1976, the home was added to the National Registrar of Historic Places. In the inspector’s report, those changes to first floor were disparaged. “The interior of this house thus has been desecrated and is of little architectural interest,” states the report’s writer at the time. Yet in the next paragraph, he concludes that the home is “one of the most impressive homes of its time in this vicinity.” Keeping the interior to its original layout would be difficult, Jason said, as so many changes were already made. The home originally had a back staircase extending to the third floor, but that was closed off at the second floor when the top floor was converted into a master bedroom. The Vivianos, he notes, had six children. The Zajacs had all of the wallpaper removed from the first floor and will have the dated wallpaper and paneling removed from the second floor. In addition to the new bathroom, a walk-in closet is being created where the back stairs come in. One of the Zajacs’ favorite amenities is the large back porch, which is screened in and overlooks a pool and the 2.5-acre property. When Liberty Haskins built the home, it at one time stretched east to Village Parkway and down to the canal, Jason said. The enitre home, except the basement, will be open on the tour. Tickets for the tour are $10.00 and available at the front door of each of the homes. For more information, visit The Waterville Historical Society’s website at www.watervillehistory.org.

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