09/23/13 — Restoring history working for some

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Restoring history working for some

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on September 23, 2013 1:46 PM

After three years of renovations, the D.W. Davis house on Virginia Street in Goldsboro's Historic District has a new look and new life as the single-family home it was originally built to be.

Amy and Jay Bauer bought the dilapidated house in May 2010 from Preservation North Carolina for $25,000 and set to work commuting to the house from California a few times a year.

"We saw this downtown movement coming and we wanted to be a part of bringing that back," Mrs. Bauer said.

After two years of commuting and spending the last four months working on the 113-year-old house seven days a week following Bauer's retirement from the construction business, the Bauers finally got to move in this past August.

"We moved to a hotel in April. We called it the campsite," Mrs. Bauer said.

Preservation NC holds properties until someone comes in and buys them to restore them.

"They sell these homes to people who are going to live in them," Mrs. Bauer said. "They don't want to have people renting them out. Owners tend to take better care of their stuff." When the Bauers bought the nearly 5,000-square-foot house, it had been converted into four separate apartments -- two upstairs and two downstairs.

"There was no staircase. It was missing," Mrs. Bauer said. "They had removed it and put up a ceiling there."

Her husband fashioned the staircase, and the railing was salvaged from another home in the historic district from which it had been previously removed.

"This is what I like to do, work with my hands," Bauer said. "Somehow I ended up behind a desk and that just brought stress."

Walking into the Bauers' house today is a totally different experience from what it was three years ago.

The second-floor staircases are gone, a "horrendous" bathroom and porch became a large kitchen and a master suite was cut out at the end of the first floor.

"We made about four or five rooms into our master suite," Mrs. Bauer said.

Though all of the structural work is done, the Bauers said they are far from finished. Still, they hope to hold an open house in December once all the trim is finished.

"We want people to see that it is possible," Mrs. Bauer said. "You get these houses and you put about $150,000 in them and you have a really nice house."

The Bauers began by structurally reinforcing the building and repairing a large number of rafters that a fire had damaged before moving onto wiring and plumbing the entire house.

"This isn't a museum, they want these houses modernized to be lived in," said Mrs. Bauer.

They will spend the next four months painting, plastering and unpacking in preparation of the open house and, possibly more importantly, preparing for their grandchildren to come stay with them.

"The sleeping porch is for the grandkids," said Mrs. Bauer. "We'll have them in their own room on the second floor."

After renovating and living in 23 houses over the course of their 44-year marriage it would seem it's about time for the Bauers to slow down and enjoy the easy-going life of downtown living.

When asked if this house is the last one, Bauer said, "Oh no ... for a little while."