The Old West End neighborhood of Toledo may be recognized as having the largest collection of Victorian homes in the U.S east of the Mississippi, however, to see classic Victoriana closer to home, all one need do is drive down Center Street in Huron.
Terry and Judy Graham's home is an example of restoration done with heart and an eye for detail.
Still a work in progress, the retired couple have spent a good portion of their spare time over the years bringing the house back to the luster it must have seen when attorney Christopher Ray and his wife Luite built it in 1903.
Terry, a former commercial airline pilot, and Judy, previously a high school guidance counselor, bought the house 16 years ago.
Throughout are pieces which belonged to Terry's grandparents and great-grandparents -- a wedding clock in the parlor. a handmade quilt in the upstairs bedroom, a commode (washstand) refinished by Terry for Judy when she was a mere 16 years old.
Heirlooms, antiques and classic turn-of-the century furnishings all rolled together to make a warm, enchanting home.
The parlor on the main floor is a soft, sun-filled room reminiscent of something out of a Jane Austin novel. There is a playable upright organ, built in 1896 by the Edna Piano & Organ Co. of Monroeville, which is topped by an antique bedroom dresser hutch. They meld together to look as if one piece was built with the other in mind.
Nearby is an original 1914 print of the house with an artist's rendering of the house as it looks now. The Graham's are only the fifth owners of the home.
There is a gas coal fireplace against one wall. The original fireplace had been bricked over and a mirror placed on the wall. The Grahams purchased an original The King 1901 and purchased a mantel to bring the fireplace back into working order.
Terry refinished the mantel, as he did most of the woodwork throughout the home, including window stools, pocket doors and furniture.
In what Judy calls the television room, is the long fluted horn of an antique Edison cylinder phonograph and a cabinet filled with 4-minute music cylinders. It's an odd looking, yet strangely attractive piece. There is an heirloom kerosene lamp on the wall that belonged to Terry's great-grandfather, and another piano. Oddly, the TV goes unnoticed!
There is a formal dining room with what may be one of the most interesting pieces in the house. An antique wooden high chair that converts into a baby stroller. The room is soothing with rose patterned carpet and near-matching wallpaper. With the rose colored upholstered chairs and deep burgundy accents, the room is opulent without being ostentatious. A notable and memorable room in which to share a special meal with family and friends.
In the center hall is a stained glass window which was custom-made, with extensive input from the Grahams, by local artist Ben Kendall. This is one of two original stained glass window designs, created by Kendall, in the house.
The next room on this tour is the main floor bath. This is the room that holds the commode that Terry restored for his love, and future wife, Judy. It also has a classic Victorian high cistern toilet. The reclaimed sink in the room has been hand painted, inside and out, to perfectly match the colors of the marble countertop.
Another unique piece in this room is a framed antique postcard of the house. Judy stated that one day someone just knocked on the door and asked if she would like the card. Of course, she said yes and had it framed for preservation.
The bath has the second Kendall original stained glass window.
Moving beyond a more modern kitchen, with built-in microwave and stainless fridge, is what can only be described as a jaw-dropping area. The addition built on to the original house in 1995, is a rustic Victorian dining room which opens into a bright, open sunroom.
The kitchen and eating area are filled with strawberries. Plates, cookie jars, towels, cross stitched items and more. Judy has been collecting strawberry memorabilia for 30 years, since she moved to Ohio. To say she has quite a collection is an understatement.
The wonderful thing about the strawberries, is that the bright red accents highlight the classic wood flatwall, jelly cupboard and ice box in the informal eating area.
It also makes for a nice transition into the softer pinks of the sunroom.
The open room with its high arched windows, washed wicker furniture and greenery, is protected from on high by a domed wooden ceiling that Terry designed and created. The overall look is richly opulent, yet simple and serene.
Proceeding to the second floor, at the top of the steps, is an heirloom-laden bedroom. The bed, washstand and dresser all belonged to family. The blue and white quilt, made by Terry's great-aunt, and the blue and white washstand set have always been together. The walls are filled with Graham family history: photos of relatives, grand and great, prints of family homes, plaques and commendations. An antique desk and a Thomas Edison radio add to the authenticity of the era.
The upstairs bathroom is what the Grahams referred to as a "working bath". It has a modern shower and his-and-her sinks. The Grahams have also collected prints from all of the Victorian-style hotels they have stayed in while traveling.
The master bedroom is strictly for slumber. It is practical and peaceful.
The second floor is still under construction. They have recently begun work on a second floor guest room.
The library will be redone so Judy will have her own work space.
Terry's office, filled with airline memorabilia and vintage classic car miniatures, is also due to be renovated.
A trip up to the third floor reveals that at one time the floor was split into two apartments. There is still a functional kitchen, however, now the space is used for storage and Judy has her laundry room here as well.
Even the garage of this period home is noteworthy.
Terry has two antique cars, a 1927 Paige and a 1935 Auburn boattail replicar. The Paige is "under construction", but the Auburn is used by the Grahams and has as well been in many area parades.
Terry is knowledgeable about every piece of the home. He is very informed about the period that he and his wife have chosen to design their lives around. Judy stated that years ago they had considered buying a Victorian home but really were not interested in that period or the work that would be involved. And yet, years later, here they are!
Time changes everything...almost.