Editor’s note: This article is one of a series of articles provided by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance and leading up to the annual Historic Home & Garden Tour. This year’s tour is an opportunity to visit eight homes, a couple museums, a garden, a church, a business and a railroad car. The tour is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 29 and 30 in Urbana. Pre-sale tickets are available at local banks and retailers, and a complete list is available at www.ccpapreserveohio.org
If you are a fan of HGTV’s show Fixer-Upper and Joanna Gaines interior designs, the Boggs/Pifher home at 441 Washington Ave. is the house for you. The kitchen, dining room and two baths have been completed and are “drop-dead” gorgeous. This family has invested a lot of “sweat equity” into their home. The shiplap wood feature wall, sliding barn doors and farm table were built by the owners.
The Boggs/Pifher home is a classic Bungalow style with the gable on the side, prominent shed-roofed dormer at the front and the wide overhanging eaves. Another key feature of this style is an integrated front porch, which in the case of this home has been enclosed. The bungalow style was very popular from 1910 through 1940 due to the large amount of living space available with its limited footprint.
The Boggs/Pifher home is in the middle of a renovation started in 2016. The owners have replaced the windows, exterior doors and the roof. In addition to the completed kitchen, bath and dining room renovations, the owners have installed new flooring, white-washed the fireplace and added the wood-beamed mantle.
House History: This 1918 Bungalow was first owned by Marie B. McCreary, who bought the lot from Mary J. Knotts in 1910. In May 1920 Elizabeth Pearce purchased the home. Elizabeth Pearce is descended from the first settlers of Urbana, who have been memorialized in Urbana by the residential street “Pearce Place.”
In April 1939 Lester O. Walter bought the house and lived there for 43 years. Mr. Walter was the owner of Lester Walter and Son Construction in the 1950s and 1960s. The company built “…More than 70 of Urbana’s finest homes…” and was the main builder for the Eichelberger Homestead Development opposite Mercy Hospital and developed by Melvin F. Miller. He also developed Orchard Drive, 500-700 South High Street, the same section of South Walnut Street and Eichelberger Drive.
While Mr. Walter was a constant feature on the home and improvement section of the Urbana Daily Citizen, Mrs. Walter was equally well covered in the social pages and was featured for her receptions at the home, many out of town visitors, and as the president of the Urbana High School Band club.
From 1978 to 1980 the home had had three owners, when David L. Eleyet purchased the home and lived there for 23 years. In April 2003 the Black family purchased the home. In December 2006 the current owners bought the home.
This home is a great example of improving a sound century-old design and making it workable for the next hundred years.
Info from Champaign County Preservation Alliance.