The McShane house

The McShane family was first to settle in what became Clay Township in Hamilton County, Indiana. Their property is less than a half mile from the Marion County (Indianapolis) line. They built a log cabin on it in 1825, and in 1886 replaced it with this grand old home.

Indiana Landmarks photo

It’s a historic home on a historic road – Westfield Boulevard. If you look it up on old maps, you’ll see it called Westfield Road and Range Line Road. When Indiana created its first highway network in 1917, it became part of State Road 1; later, it became the first alignment of US 31.

I work a mile from here and pass this house all the time. I’ve watched it slowly deteriorate over the years – the last owner couldn’t afford the mortgage and abandoned it. It’s been broken into; I gather that there’s been some vandalism inside.

But now the McShane house has a chance. Indiana Landmarks, our historic preservation organization, just bought it at auction. They will make repairs to stabilize the home, and then will resell it with protective covenants to someone who will restore it and live in it.

Don’t think I’m not tempted. But I have a few friends who have restored homes. From them I’ve learned that I just haven’t the time, energy, money, skills, and touch of insanity necessary to make my home my life’s project.

But Indiana Landmarks has a great track record of putting the right people in the homes they buy. They did it for an 1840s farmhouse around the corner from my house – it sat empty for a few years, but now a young family lives there and is making improvements. So I’m sure that in time Indiana Landmarks will find the right people for the McShane house, too.

See my photo of a lonely tree silhouetted against sunrise, which was taken just down the street from this house.


Comments

11 responses to “The McShane house”

  1. traveller858 Avatar

    If you did buy it it would make a terrific, long term, photo assignment! I love the way this blog picks up on things that are too easily forgotten.

    1. Jim Avatar

      And a terrific, long-term restoration headache! Maybe I can still photograph it from afar while someone else restores it!

  2. Jennifer S Avatar

    It’s a beautiful house. Have you ever been inside? You know there are tax breaks for people who restore landmark properties? In our neighborhood there are homeowners who just sort of perpetually work on their old houses… one neighbor has spent a couple years sanding and painting the outside in between work as a software developer. You could do it! I think you should do it!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I admire your misplaced confidence in me! I dunno, I have enough trouble keeping up with my little ranch house. The windows have needed scraped and painted the entire 5 years I’ve lived here. I kept swearing I’d get around to restaining the deck; it finally had peeled entirely before I paid someone last fall to do the job.

      I “refreshed” my bathroom a couple years ago and that about did me in! (Naturally, I wrote about it. Always feeding this beast. http://blog.jimgrey.net/2011/02/28/operation-lipstick-on-the-pig-or-how-i-refreshed-my-bathroom-for-under-500/)

  3. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    That’s astonishing! It’s hard to imagine private donations could secure a place like that, but I suppose the county was just interested in getting the taxes cleared up. What a wonderful idea. I really hope it comes together and the place gets its second wind. :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      This house sold at auction for about $130,000, so it wasn’t just a matter of clearing up the taxes! Indiana Landmarks does a good job of saving old buildings all over Indiana.

      1. Lone Primate Avatar
        Lone Primate

        Whew, that’s even more impressive.

  4. davidvanilla Avatar

    Were I fifty years younger and had I a bucket of money… Big bucket.

    1. Jim Avatar

      To the extent I have a bucket of money, it needs to go toward my kids’ college educations, not toward restoring an old house.

  5. ryoko861 Avatar

    I see houses like this all the time and it breaks my heart! This will have a happy ending! I know what you mean, time and cash are always the reason. But if I had both, I would be flipping houses left and right!

    1. Jim Avatar

      It’s a good gig if you’ve got the money and skills!

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