The Renovation: During

Two years ago, Todd and I moved all of our belongings into our uninhabitable house and realized it would still be awhile before we could live there. Our lease on our apartment was up at the end of May. June 1st, we had a problem.

Fortunately, railroaders are pretty generous folks (well, most of them). At some point, I would say at least half of all railroaders are in need of a place to crash for a while. This time it wasn’t just Todd, but me, Robin (our cat), and Boxy (our turtle). Our friend, and fellow railroader, Joe, offered us his place. So, for about a month, we lived in a room in the basement.

During April and May when we were spending countless hours on the house, we didn’t have a bathroom. I got over my fear of public bathrooms pretty quick. I’m also pretty sure the people at Kwik Trip thought we were homeless for as many times as we used their restrooms and ate our meals from there.

I should note, Todd was working on the house during all of his weekends and some times while waiting to go into work. I was up by 5:00 every morning and at the house by 6:00. I had until about 8:40 before I needed to leave for work. We had no electricity turned on. So, I would paint, lay floor, sweep, pull nails, etc. I would usually stop by after work too and work on things, until it started getting too dark.

When we did finally move into the house, we were still without a kitchen and shower. I spent my 30th birthday helping Todd put in our shower. During the so many days we didn’t have a shower… I washed my hair and our dishes in the backyard.

It was Thanksgiving before we had counter-tops and a kitchen sink.

The “during” portion of the renovation was pretty intense. We took out all the flooring, all cabinets, gutted the entire bathroom. We also ripped up 3 layers of sub flooring in the back two rooms. Oddly enough, there was more than one layer of dry-wall in several places as well. We also had a lot of electrical redone and all of the plumbing.

I’m getting anxious just writing about this. It was quite the ordeal.

Below are some of our “deconstruction/construction stage” photos. Including…when I broke the chandelier (and cut my head open), when the cat decided to break into the food we had stashed in the basement, and all our belongings crammed into the living room.

I promise I will get some of the garden before and after posts up asap! Maybe even in the next few days.


The Renovation: Before

When we first looked at our house,  I really loved the big windows, the big yard, and the fact it was a 1950’s ranch. I did not love or even like much else about it.  But, as Todd says, “It just felt right.” We knew it was going to need some love, a lot of love. We thought, after the home inspection the majority was going to be cosmetic, well…

Before we get into all craziness we ran into, let me show you what we started with! The gallery below is what the house looked liked just after we got our hands on it. And when the panic began.

We closed on the house at the end of March. Our apartment lease ran out May 31st. We thought we could get it done (enough) in those two months, to be able to move in comfortably. HA. I will show you next week what we did in those two months.

Some of the crazy features you can’t see:

  • the 2nd bedroom was not only bright turquoise, the ceiling was yellow, and the closets were painted lilac.
  • The bathroom had two different light fixtures, one was broken
  • the extent of how bad the paneling was on the wall with the fireplace and laundry room.
  • The garage…it’s all paneled too.
  • just how grimey everything was.
  • And you can’t see how much of sag there was in the floor, in back part of the house, where the bath and laundry are… oh and that the toilet was sinking!


Our House: Part 1

I have had such a hard time deciding where to start. There are so many homes, places, people, and gardens I want to write about. So, I’ve decided. I will just work my way back through family homes, starting with mine.

The stats on our home:

  • Built: 1956
  • Classic Ranch Style with 1,164 sq feet
  • 2 beds, 1 bath
  • On almost 1/4 of an acre
  • 4 lifetime owners (including us!)

Todd and I bought this little gem in the Spring of 2016. I was not super impressed, but the windows, lot size, and the fact it reminded me of one my all-time favorite homes (Grandma and Grandpa Pete’s) convinced me. There was a lot of work to do. Here’s the exterior the fall before we purchased it.


At some point, I will write an entire post about the before and after (ish) of our ongoing renovation. For now, I want to talk about this home’s history.

I am obsessed with old maps and land patents so, my first step in finding out the story of this home was finding who held the land patent. By looking at maps, and the legal description of our home, I was able to find who held the original patent on the section of land where our house sits. In 1855, certificate # 928 at the Stevens Point Land Office was granted to John Phillips. From my short research, I believe he was one of the first physicians in Stevens Point.

John Phillips Patent

My next clue in the story of the land comes from an 1895 land plat. The land had passed to C.F. Russell. It is an interesting map, because you can see the shape of the neighborhood begin to form. I have done some research on Charles but can’t remember where I put it, so it will have to wait for another day. This is the 1895 map overlayed onto a current Google map. The point of the red dot is our home.

1895 Overlay Point

By 1915, a plat of the city shows the land to be owned by W. H. Dumbleton (I assume he is Dumbledore’s American cousin, ha)! Once again, you can see where we are located, despite the overlay being so soft. You can aslo see neighborhoods starting to be sectioned out.

1915 Overlay Point

From here, I will have to do some real digging and footwork to find the missing information about the land and what was happening on it. But, I do know that in 1956, Ward and Evelyn Naramore built our home.

Ward Naramore was born in 1902, in Irma, Wisconsin. He graduated from a teacher’s college, after which he taught grade school, until his marriage to Evelyn, in 1929. During WWII, he served as corporal with United States Air Force. After the war, he served in Hawaii with the US Navy Seabees. I was so excited when I found out he was a Seabee, as my own grandfather was also one. Ward was employed by the legendary Lullaby Furniture company here in Stevens Point. He also was the president of the local carpenters union. He died in November of 1975.

Evelyn ‘Jelinski’ Naramore was born in 1906, here in Stevens Point. She worked at another Stevens Point landmark industry, the Weber Fly Factory. Evelyn must have been from strong stock, she passed away in 2007, at the age of 101.

The couple had one son, named Ronald, who was killed as a young boy in 1934. The boy was playing in the backyard at a family home in Merrill when he was ran over by a truck. He is buried with his parents at Guardian Angel Cemetery in Stevens Point.

From 1956,when the home was built until sometime around 2002, our house was owned by the Nararmores. Evelyn was moved to a nursing home before passing. Some of our current neighbors remember her as a kind, very old lady.

After the Naramores, two other owners lived here, but they stayed for short periods of time. We closed on the house March 28, 2016. It needed some love. We took it on knowing the home, which we guess Ward had quite a hand in building, hadn’t had many repairs or updates in decades.

In the process, we’ve found a few ladies hats up in the attic (Todd thought he’d found a scalp). And in 2016, while tearing out the bathroom ceiling just a day before Todd’s birthday, a handful of cards fell out. One just happened to be a birthday card, signed by Ward, himself.

There is a lot of comfort knowing about who this home has belonged to, and I feel like the improvements we’ve made would be approved by the Naramores. Despite having two other owners, it will always be Ward and Evelyn’s house. I think she would really like all the flowers we’ve added!

So, here is the little snapshot of our home’s history. There is still more I’d like to find out, but it’s a great starting point for digging into the history of where we live, from the home, neighborhood, city, county, and state. Every little plot of land has a story.

I hope to find out more about the Naramores, Russell, and Dumbleton.

In my next several posts, I will add to what I’ve learned about the owners, tips on where to find information on your own home, and of course the saga of our home renovations.