BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — While weeding, planting and watering the flowerbeds at 524 Michigan Ave., it’s not unusual for Jenny and Eric Trobaugh to have neighbors stop and ask about seeing the inside of their home. On Saturday, June 17, their 117-year-old home will be one of six homes open for tours during the Waterville Historical Society’s first Historic Homes Tour since 1989. Originally built for a Supreme Court judge in 1900, the two-story blue home is named for longtime residents Frederick and Minnie Walbolt. The home was in the Walbolt family until the mid-1960s. Later, the Beatty family owned the home, and their garage was a site for carriers to pick up their bundles of The Blade. Dents in the wall are likely from where carriers leaned their bikes, Eric said. The garage and kitchen were added in 1902, and the Trobaughs built a hallway with a closet and mudroom to connect the garage to the house. Standing in the refinished kitchen, the Trobaughs recently explained that the original floor slanted 8 inches. “The whole house was in bad shape,” Eric said. “Once we started to open up walls, it spiraled out of control.” The Trobaughs wanted a historic home, and had a few deals on other homes fall through before writing a letter to the owners of the two-story, 2,332-square-foot home that had been rented out for years. “We drove by the house and thought it was worth saving. We knew it could be amazing,” Jenny said. After closing in January 2015 for $96,000, the couple embarked on late nights of tearing out old ceiling fans, fixing floors, repairing plaster and replacing all of the electrical, plumbing and HVAC. Bathrooms were torn out and replaced. The six-bedroom home was reconfigured to allow space for a master bedroom and a laundry room. A built-in cabinet in the dining room likely served as the cupboards for the original kitchen. Using chemical stripper, gloves and toothpicks at times, the couple removed old paint and restored the woodwork to its original glory. “It was a labor of love,” Eric said. Because many of the architectural elements were damaged, the couple searched for period-accurate replacements, such as a mantelpiece that was salvaged from a home on Winthrop Street in Toledo. A $5.00 chandelier from ReStore in Maumee turned out to be a Moe-Bridges design worth $200 or more. The front door features a stained-glass panel that replicated one in the Beatty’s old farmhouse. The buffet, table and chairs in the dining room are from Eric’s family. His collection of antique taxidermy dots the mantelpiece and shelves in the dining room. Throughout the summer, passersby can admire the hard work that Jenny puts into the landscaping around the home, which earned her a Garden of the Month Award from Countryside Garden Club last year. When they first moved in, Jenny often spent evenings, even after dark with lights on, pulling grapevines, weeding and planting flowers. “It was a safari,” she said of the once-overgrown yard. While the time to refinish the home turned out to be 100 times more than they expected, Jenny and Eric say it was well worth it. “I like the idea that this home has had 116 Christmas mornings here,” Jenny said. The entire home, except for the basement, will be on the June 17 tour. Tickets are available for $20.00 each, allowing access to six homes plus two WHS museums, the Robbins House and Sargent House, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit www.watervillehistory.org, click “Join and Give” and select “Historic Homes of Waterville.” Tickets purchased online will be available the day of the event at J & R Contracting in Waterville Plaza, where shuttles will transport guests to the homes. Each house will have additional tickets for sale, as well. Tickets are also available at the Waterville Branch Library, Smoke & Fire and Waterville Hardware.
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