Restoring history: Historic home in Milton is one of five featured in annual Christmas walk

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Andrea Behling
November 28, 2014

MILTON—One woman remembered working in the financial aid office when the house at 417 E. High St. was part of the Milton College campus.

Another person recalled living upstairs as a student.

“She said it was so cold upstairs they came halfway down the stairs and sat on the stairs to get warm,” Ethel Himmel said.

Himmel walked around with paper and pen, recording memories as people toured her home.

The stories she heard in 2002 about her and Bill Wilson's historic home is one of the reasons they agreed to be a stop in Milton's annual Christmas walk again this year.

Their house is one of five stops for the 12th annual event, coordinator Terry Williamson said.

People are invited to walk through the homes, which either have historical value in Milton or are decorated ornately for the holidays.

The other stops are:

--The Kosharek House, owned by Laurie and Jim Kosharek, at 6304 Lima Center Road.

--Fermenting Cellars, owned by Bill and Mary Eckert, at 2004 W. Manogue Road.

--Dosch House, owned by Tami and Theron Dosch, at 330 Rogers St.

--Stinski House, owned by Linda and Herb Stinski, at 321 Rogers St.

For Himmel and Wilson, the Christmas walk will be another chance to learn more about their home, which will be 100 years old in 2015.

Before the house belonged to Himmel and Wilson, it was the home of George Post and his wife, Mary E. Goodrich. Mary was the daughter of Ezra Goodrich and granddaughter to Joseph Goodrich, who founded Milton.

The house was built in 1915 as a retirement home for the Posts, who had moved back to Milton from Chicago where George practiced medicine.

The Post's youngest of seven children, Jessie, lived in the house with her husband, Milton Davis, after George and Mary.

In the 1960s, the house became the property of Milton College and served as Davis Hall. It housed the offices for student health services, admissions and financial aid.

When the college closed in 1982, the home stood empty for a few years until a couple bought it in 1984. Wilson and Himmel bought the house in 1998.

The two, librarian consultants for 25 years, decided to restore the house to bring back its historical value. They picked wallpaper designs that were appropriate in 1915. They custom designed new windows to look like the originals. The ceilings in the kitchen were redone to be at nearly the same height as they were when the house was built.

“We've spent more money fixing the house than we did buying it. The effort has been to try to make it look like it did in 1915,” Wilson said.

The house has Arts and Crafts movement charm with modern touches.

“We've tried to balance the historical value and the fact that it's a home. We wanted it to be something you could live in in 2015,” Wilson said.

The home has been featured in three magazines, and it's a perfect house for the Christmas walk, Williamson said.

“People love to see a home that has been restored. They have just done it right,” Williamson said.

Himmel and Wilson's Christmas decorations are simple—a real tree, glass ornaments and real garland on the mantle and above the windows. Holly bushes and a couple small trees will be put out, and the dining room table will be set with period-style china.

“It will be relatively simple and natural. We're much more trying to figure out how they'd decorate in 1915,” Himmel said.

Wilson and Himmel hope to hear more stories during the Christmas walk from people who might have memories in the house.

“I'm hoping the house is a real draw simply because I think there is a lot of people who have some connection to it,” Himmel said.

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