Gary and Diane Ackerman are gracious hosts.
When Mrs. Ackerman answered the door, she led me into the foyer. We'd had snow the morning I visited so I offered to remove my shoes.
"Oh no, this is a home, not a museum." And that is how I felt during my visit, like I was visiting friends in their home.
The main floor of the home is reminiscent of the period where women wore close fitting bodices and small waisted dresses and men donned coats and jackets. It is suitably furnished for the Victorian-era. It is a time-warp back to the late 1800 s or early 1900 s.
The basement of this house on East Adams Street is a fascinating contrast from the period of the main house.
There is a groove in the air. It was an amazing departure from the traditional main floor.
It is jazz. Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith and Charlie Parker would feel right at home here.
The main room has rounded chairs, a renovated park bench, several pieces of jazz-inspired artwork, bar and stools and traditional popcorn machine. The softness of the chairs contrasts with the hardness of the classic park bench, the curved lines of the artwork are juxtaposed to the lines of the barstools. It is perfect in its contrasts of simplicity.
And that music!
From Jazz at G's came the sounds of glorious jazz.
The cafe-style room highlights a small stage surrounded by small tables with chairs. The Ackermans often entertain in the basement and hire musicians to play front and center on the stage.
It's Louis Armstrong leading the band and Billie Holiday as the singing maid in the movie "New Orleans".
When the hunger for food joins the hunger for cool jazz, there is a full catering kitchen. During evenings with friends and family, food is prepared and served right in the basement; no running up and down stairs to disrupt parties in this home.
Across the way is the game room.
Have a seat at the card/boardgame table with friends and watch one of four televisions, shoot a game of billiards or take a chance at the slot machines. A pair of novelty lamps not only shed light on activities, but add to the jazz tone of the room.
In addition to parties they host in their home, Gary and Diane have several grandchildren who love spending time in the basement. They have TVs, games and lots of space for playing on the floor with their toys.
Diane told me Gary and the guys love spending time down here. There's TVs, games...well, you get the idea.
The Ackermans bought the vintage home in 2003. It took 23 months for them to have the four-story home restored. The inspiration to change things in the basement is as pure and simple as the music itself -- Gary loves jazz.
The basement is casual and relaxing, with the rooms and ceilings painted in deep, warm colors. A small full bathroom adds convenience for partiers. An exit leading directly outside allows the Ackermans to move the party inside or out without missing a beat if weather dictates.
The Ackermans threw a party after they restored the house and asked guests to suggest a name for the newly remodeled home.
The winner was A.J. Hart, son of Don Hart of Willard, the contractor who oversaw the restoration. Christened Abigail House, the Ackerman's home was named for Abigail Adams, wife of the second U.S. President and mother of the sixth (the house is on Adams Street).