Island period home gets new life and an unexpected visitor
About four years ago, Houston residents Louann Barnett and husband Steve Rogers bought an 1893 period house in the Lost Bayou Historic District of Galveston with the intention of renovating and selling it.
Yet, the more they came to the island, the more they fell in love with the city of Galveston.
“We loved the restaurants and the beach, and eventually decided it would be great to have the house as a second home for ourselves,” Barnett said.
Initially, her husband wasn’t too sure about it.
“I liked the house, but thought she’d lost her mind, because re-doing a house over 100 years old is quite an undertaking,” Rogers said.
Because they had used Greymark Construction Co. to remodel their Houston residence, they turned to them again to help with renovations, which began in March 2015.
A 1900 Storm survivor, the raised house with 11-foot ceilings had good bones. The exterior was in fairly good condition, but the interior was another story.
“The previous owner had done some work on the house, but nothing had been completed,” Barnett said. “He had amassed and left a huge collection of materials, so Greymark’s project manager, Dwayne Crow, was able to use certain items when renovating.”
It took about nine months to finish the house, which now has three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms.
“Leslie King, owner and president of Greymark, was also a big help,” Barnett said. “She walked through the house and saw things we didn’t see, plus she assured us that we could put a bathroom upstairs, which we thought was impossible. Our main goal was to pay homage to its original form as much as we could.”
The house was refurbished in a classic Southern style; a few exterior boards, windows and window frames were replaced, and old shutters removed. New ones have been ordered. It also was necessary to jack up the right front corner of the house. Because the previous owner had put on a new roof, that was one less worry. Other than that, just a coat of Sherwin-Williams “Monorail Silver” spruced up the outside, which was trimmed in plum, turquoise and white.
The front porch and outside steps, original to the house, were painted a steel gray.
Inside, the pastel walls of soothing bluish-gray-green — Sherwin-Williams “Sea Salt” — contrast nicely with the original hardwood floors that only needed a bit of chestnut stain. The owners were careful to keep the dings and dents intact.
The living room flows into the family room, divided by massive 7-foot-wide sliding doors, with original hardware. All transom windows are original.
The master bedroom and bath are upfront to the left. Sandra Crook, Greymark’s design consultant, chose the black and white penny floor tile for both the master and upstairs bathrooms.
Original plans had the kitchen where the master is, but the couple felt it would be more functional in the very back of the home. Plus, they were able to use windows from the front part of the house to brighten up the space.
“Greymark helped a lot with the kitchen design,” said Barnett, who was set on having a big, open floor plan. “It occurred to us that we could have a galley-type kitchen, so we added a long, walnut bar and honed Carrara marble countertops, and had plenty of room left to fit a large table.”
Glass jug lantern light fixtures hanging above the bar and a commercial stove with an old-fashioned design add to the period décor. The custom-built vent hood stretching high above the stove is eye-catching. A laundry room and powder room were added in this area as well.
“It’s my favorite part of the house,” said Rogers, who said the kitchen and master bedroom/bath areas were the two biggest undertakings.
Upstairs, the two bedrooms with bead board walls and ceilings carry out the soft palette of colors. Rogers’ office is a calming blue, painted with Sherwin-Williams “Rain.” The grandbaby’s nursery, a soft yellow, was painted with Sherwin-Williams “Full Moon.”
Plumbing and electrical had to be brought up to code, as did the stair balusters. Most lighting fixtures were replaced with Hampton Bay chandeliers that honor the period theme.
After Barnett and Rogers used everything possible from the stack of salvaged materials left by the previous owner, they donated the rest to the Galveston Historical Foundation’s Architectural Salvage Warehouse on the island.
Now that the home is livable and most of the work is complete, Barnett and Rogers are enjoying every minute of it — as long as the ghost doesn’t appear.
During the early stages of construction, King was the first to feel her, determining she was female. A few months later, Crow felt a sort of warmth rising up his leg as he heard piano music. Another time, he heard country music coming from his cellphone, which bothered him because he never listens to country music.
“We think the ghost mainly hangs out in the garage,” Barnett said. “Plus, we have no plans to do anything to that area in order to keep it original. Besides, that is where Crow encountered the ghost, so better to leave well enough alone.”