Third Avenue bungalow goes from dilapidated to gem of Home Tour

No one walking into Judy and John Brush’s beautifully renovated home could imagine its physical history. It was in such a state of deterioration when the Brushes tried to buy it in 1974 that the bank would not complete the loan until the front and back porches were repaired and a floor furnace was installed.

Their 1910 bungalow will be among the gems on display during the Curtis Park Home & Garden Tour, which has been postponed to April 24, 2021, due to the coronavirus crisis.

Visitors will see a mostly new home inside its original shell. John Brush, a carpenter, at one time had the walls down to the studs. Another time he dug a basement, which now is a full, finished room, complete with full bath, closet and furnace room. That project took more than two years of muddy days with a ladder required for access from the kitchen to the backyard.

A local historian told them that their home was the first building permit pulled for the West Curtis Oaks development. That permit is dated June 5, 1910. The home is currently on Third Avenue; originally, the street was named First Avenue.

The original kitchen had low counters covered with green hexagonal tiles, a free-standing water heater in one corner and an old gas stove “that worked great,” Judy said. She remembers the original cupboards were so shallow that her dinner plates wouldn’t fit on the shelves.

Photo courtesy of John and Judy Brush

When Judy and John started the kitchen remodel in 1979, they were expecting their first child. When Rachel was born in November, the kitchen was gutted and the back of the house was off.

Judy Brush says she figured it would take seven years to renovate their house on Third Avenue when she and husband John started in 1974, above. Now, they have an upstairs deck to enjoy, “but here we are at 45 years and we still have a list.”
Photo/ Judy Scheible

John did nearly all of the work in the kitchen, which included removing an old chimney, clearing space for a large, walk-in pantry.

Now the kitchen is a modern hub with a large breakfast nook, windows and a glass French door that overlook the back patio and yard and a spacious, separate laundry room.

Judy said the home’s only original space is the dining room. It’s dark wood paneling and built-in cabinets with leaded-glass doors are enhanced by dramatic wallpaper that encircles the room above the plate rail.

For the living room, John put up new sheetrock and built a classic mantel for the fireplace, which was completely rebuilt to make the room cozy in the winter.

Adjacent to the living room is a newly remodeled hobby space where Judy makes jewelry, designer cards and does her computer work. An alcove off the room is Judy’s dressing room with a closet and vanity.

Upstairs are three bedrooms and a recently remodeled bathroom with a step-in shower. Through the French doors of the back bedroom is a recently built deck as wide as the house.

“When we started working on the house, we estimated it would take about seven years to remodel, but here we are at 45 years and we still have a list,” says Judy.

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