John and Judy (White) Anderson would love to see photographs of their home -- the big two-story house situated on a large corner lot at 602 E. First -- at any point in its history, but particularly before the house was sectioned off into seven apartments.
The Museum of the High Plains in McCook has one photograph of the house -- from the south, in the early 1950s -- when it was used as the Berean Fundamental Church. The Andersons want to reproduce the home's original exterior and wrap-around porch, and would love to use photographs as their guide.
"One McCook woman remembers trick-or-treating here," Judy said. "And someone else said she came to this house, in 1913, for piano lessons."
Judy herself remembers that, in the early 1960s, she visited friends who lived in a tiny two-room apartment carved from two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor of the big home-turned-rental.
McCook natives Doug Vap and Linda Hein told the Andersons they've always known the house as "The Waite House." John said, however, they believe the first owner of the house was J.E. Kelley, the McCook mayor who installed the city's sewer system.
The flagstone sidewalk around the corner lot was installed by whomever built other neighborhood homes, Judy said, and it all came in on railroad cars from Colorado. "It's heavy as sin, and it all needs to be leveled," Judy sighed.
"People keep coming to us with information about the house," John said. "Some of it rhymes. Some of it doesn't."
Anyone with memories about the house, or photographs, is encouraged to call the Andersons, (308) 345-2064, and leave a message.
As they start what could be a four- to five-year project, the Andersons are living in the apartment created when the front porch was enclosed. When they get ready to recreate the front porch, they'll move into the house, John said.
John was a building contractor before tackling this project. He's convinced, "it's really cool. I can have fun with this."
The couple has discovered, as they've removed some apartment walls, that carpenters did not destroy original woodwork or ceilings. "That was one reason we bought the house," Judy said. "We could see it had potential."
The dining room's original coffered ceiling and crown moldings are painted orange. "The oak wainscoting is still here," Judy said. "It's all good. It's just ... hmmm, orange."
The fireplace in "The Fireplace Room" was sealed up at some point, and remains hidden. "We've never seen the fireplace," Judy said. "Unfortunately, they've probably taken off the mantle."
In here, the coffered ceiling will have to be restored, and French doors will be installed on the east wall.
The tin ceiling in the kitchen will have to be replaced, as plumbers through the years have cut out, and through, some of it for second-floor bathroom plumbing. The Andersons will refit the kitchen with a tin ceiling removed from a hardware store in Wauneta.
The Anderson have plans to rebuild the servants' stairway leading upstairs from the kitchen. In the bathroom at the top of the stairs, the Andersons discovered the original white octagonal tile under carpeting.
At the top of the front stairway, John will build a computer room, and on its library shelves, will house the couple's collection of western novels, each complete with its dust jacket.
The couple will restore the original master suite, designed originally with French doors leading to a very small closet. A new, much larger closet is lined with cedar. A stained glass window now in the closet will be removed and hung as art elsewhere in the house, Judy said.
A servant's bedroom, heated by a very ornate radiator, is tucked under the east eaves of the third floor/attic. Storage space takes up the remainder of the full attic, which is also equipped with a large, galvanized tank. "A water tank? Relief for the furnace?," John questions. "Everything we know is a guess."
Outside, in the northwest corner of the yard, sits an authentic carriage house -- not a garage. "How do we know it's a carriage house?," John quizzed, and answered the question himself, "Because it has three doors." The horse-and-buggy were driven into the carriage house through one set of double doors on the east side, and the horse unhitched and driven through a set of doors on the west side. Then the horse was taken around the carriage house and boarded in stalls behind a second set of double doors on the east side of the house, he explains.
Rebuilding the carriage house has been quite a challenge, John said. "It was full of pigeons, and we had to redo all the soffits, which were rotten or missing," he said.
The Andersons' original paint scheme on the carriage house was varying shade of cool blue, but they've changed their minds and are now painting it warmer shades of antique greens.
The porch that wrapped around the first floor of the house went from the southwest corner to the northeast corner, and was fitted with 22 porch posts. John and Judy found two half-posts (originally mounted on the wall next to doors) in the attic. The couple bought four porch posts at a threshers' show in Iowa, and another four from a farmer who had them stored in his barn west of McCook. John wants all the porch posts to match. Judy added, "They'll be close, at least."
John and Judy are constantly searching garage sales and flea markets -- for porch posts and anything else they can use in their renovation. And, they admit, they've never thrown anything away, so they have an extensive inventory of their own. The Andersons want their renovation project to be historically accurate -- that's why they're searching for photographs and memories.
"It's a fun, interesting house," Judy said.
Contact the Andersons at: (308) 345-2064 (leave a message, they'll call back) or (217) 836-6617 (cell); or at their business, Spunky Point Trading Co., P.O. Box 56; McCook, NE 69001; www.spunkypoint.com or e-mail, email@example.com