Mike Barta always felt like a custodian for his home at 631 Pearl St.
“I felt kind of an obligation to preserve it and bring it back to something of its former self, but modernized for today’s living,” he said.
He was excited to tackle the Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1890-91 in Ottawa.
“I grew up in a big old house and I had a little bit of nostalgia for the woodwork and the high ceilings,” he said.
When he and his wife, Nancy, purchased the home 26 years ago, it had fallen into disrepair. They didn’t live in the home for the first six months as work was underway, not only to repair the 3,975-square-foot home, but also to make it historically correct.
“It has beautiful woodwork, but most of it had been painted or neglected over the years,” Mike said.
Nancy recalled spending three months stripping white paint and red enamel off the staircase.
“We’ve always loved old homes. It was a labor of love fixing it up, bringing it back to what it used to look like,” she said.
She also enjoyed researching the history of the home. She has a large binder filled with newspaper articles, pictures and other items pertaining to the home.
It was built for William Degen, a cattle broker. The home is named after A.C. Bradish, who purchased the house in 1917. He came to Ottawa in the 1880s and was involved in a lumber business, founded by his father, for more than 50 years. His lumber yard was located at the corner of Madison and Fulton streets. He died in August 1938, indirectly as a result of a car accident in January that year.
Nancy also saved several newspaper photographs and articles about a fountain in their backyard. Its former home was Washington Square in downtown Ottawa.
The two-basin fountain was installed in the center of a cluster of five W.D. Boyce memorial gas lights in the park in 1961, according to a Daily Republican Times article.
The 3-feet, 4-inch fountain was donated by the American Legion in memory of deceased Ottawa war veterans of all wars.
The fountain had been damaged by vandals and was removed from the park and stored away until the city sold it.
The Bartas had the damage repaired and the fountain sanded and painted and placed it in their backyard with a foundation pond. It was one of many improvements made to the outdoor space, including a deck, gazebo, fish pond and landscaped beds. The home sits on two lots.
When Bradish purchased the home, he added wood beams and panels to the dining room. He also added two porches — one upstairs and one downstairs.
The porch off the master bedroom was called a sleeping porch, Nancy said, because before air conditioning people slept in screened porches in the summer. The porch has been insulated and enclosed.
They also rearranged the upstairs a bit to accommodate more modern living — including adding a laundry room where the maid’s quarters were located.
In 2009, the home was designated a local landmark by the Ottawa Preservation Commission and Ottawa City Council.
“Living in the home, I just felt privileged to live there — every morning when I came down the staircase and walked to the kitchen. The house is just so pretty, I thought. We just loved living there,” Nancy said.
• The home at 631 Pearl St., Ottawa, is $419,000. Most of the antiques and period furniture throughout the home are available for purchase as well. For more information, call Deborah Burns with Re/Max 1st Choice at 815-228-1034.