In 1916 that railroad bridge that crosses from Sciotoville to Kentucky was in the process of being built. It was that same year that a house that can easily be seen from the bridge was built. That house is at 5951 Gallia Street in Sciotoville.
“I don’t know who the first owner was,” Leslie Nelson, who, along with her husband Bill Nelson, owns the house now, said. “I know who the second owner was. It was the Chaboudy family. They had Chaboudy Grocery. Dr. (Louis) Chaboudy grew up in this house. It was just a few years between their owning it and Don Wolfe purchasing it in 1970. It was vacant for a few years. No one lived in it, and he owned it from 1970 until 2005 when we purchased it. So we’re only the fifth owner in a hundred years.”
Leslie Nelson said the house used to have a porch that went all the way around, but that was altered with Wolfe put the funeral home in adjacent to the house.
“Other than that and a much nicer front yard, very little of significance has changed about the house,” Leslie Nelson said.
Nelson is quick to qualify any reference to remodeling by saying they have only done a few small things to the house in order to maintain its original ambiance.
“We paint. We’ve put up crown molding to match what’s already here,” Leslie Nelson said. “We don’t believe in painting wood that’s still in good condition and try to maintain the flavor of the house.”
The first thing you notice when you enter into the home is the great old pocket doors. They have refinished the floors.
“This is the first time that floor has been seen in a hundred years. It has always been covered,” Leslie Nelson said. “We believe in maintaining the flavor of the place as much as possible.”
“The whole place is like this,” Bill Nelson said. “There’s no sub-flooring. With lights on at night time you can see through the cracks. There is no sub-flooring, just the joists.”
Leslie Nelson said there is sort of an ongoing battle about the front windows. Though new windows have been added to the house, the front windows feature original glass from 1916 when the house was built. Though they leak a little, and could be more energy efficient, Leslie Nelson says it is important to her to keep them original.
The downstairs ceiling is 9 1/2 feet high and about 8 1/2 feet high upstairs.
The Nelsons are under the impression that the house originally may have been a kit house.
“Back in the early part of the (20th) century, you could order a whole house,” Leslie Nelson said. “You could drive through this whole part of southern Ohio and say – ’ that’s model 32, that’s model 47.’ They ordered kit homes and they would come with all the parts marked. You could say you wanted to order your heater from somewhere else, or you could order it with the heater and the refrigerator and sometimes furniture and then you would hire somebody to build it or you would build it yourself.”
Bill Nelson said there are some similarities between kit homes and their 100 year old house, but Leslie Nelson is of the opinion that it is not a kit home.
“I don’t think this house is upper class,” Leslie Nelson said. “I think it might have been well-to-do merchant class because the trim, although it looks like walnut is probably pine.”
The couple has rewired the entire house because the wiring was in the condition that a fire could have resulted.
The house has fireplaces and at one time was heated with coal, and most likely heated by oil later.
Make no mistake about it, the Nelsons have made the house uniquely their own with advertising signs they have collected, including an internally-lit Coca Cola sign that advertises hamburgers for 25 cents, and doors that have two openings so they can be used for business windows and a sitting room that is built for family comfort with a lot of personal touches.
“We are very fond of our house and welcome the opportunity to celebrate its centennial,” Leslie Nelson said. “This house has seen two major floods, two world wars, the Nam conflict, the Korean conflict, not to mention the rise and fall of the Southern Ohio economy and has come out relatively unscathed. It’s impressive.”
To see the house gives one the sense of the history of that community. Leslie Nelson says there is another way to remind one of the age of the house – “it creaks.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.