People who live in an historic Edwardsville neighborhood have watched a house on Grand Avenue change so much in the past four years that it is barely recognizable.
They’ve also seen a merry band of volunteers show up almost every Saturday morning, wielding power tools and hauling construction materials.
“This is probably going to be the biggest fundraiser that the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Habitat for Humanity has ever done,” said board member Greg Erspamer, 55, of Edwardsville.
That’s because it’s the first time local volunteers have renovated an old house and sold it at market value to raise money for Habitat projects.
“We’ll be able to build two or three more houses for families who couldn’t otherwise afford them,” said Greg, a retired truck driver.
The public can tour the transformed four-bedroom, two-bath home at 922 Grand Ave. from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 31. The list price will be revealed that day.
Inside, rooms will be “staged” with repaired, redesigned, repainted and repurposed furniture from a local shop called Restore Decor.
Our goal is for people to see the house and visualize it as a home. We’d also like to sell the furniture and accessories. All the proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity.
Dana Adams on house staging
“Our goal is for people to see the house and visualize it as a home,” said manager Dana Adams, 48, of Edwardsville. “We’d also like to sell the furniture and accessories. All the proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity.”
Restore Decor is the extremely busy fund-raising arm of Faith Coalition, an ecumenical group of 13 churches that is coordinating the rehab project for Habitat. The ringleader is local contractor Joe Russo. He founded the coalition in 2011 after helping with post-tornado relief efforts in Joplin, Mo.
“We quickly learned the value of working together,” said Joe, 44, a member of Newsong Fellowship.
The Grand Avenue home was donated to Habitat by Rick Rothermich, 68, a retired steelworker. He lived in it more than 30 years before moving to St. Charles, Mo., to care for his parents.
“I had worked with Habitat, and I knew they were looking for projects at the time,” he said. “I just thought this would help them out.”
Rick estimates that the modest frame home was built around 1900. When he left, it had two bedrooms and a bathroom on one floor.
“It didn’t have any insulation,” he said, noting that bricks had been stacked inside some walls. The exterior was wood-composite siding over asphalt.
The Habitat board considered making minor repairs and selling the home or tearing it down and starting from scratch before settling on plans for a complete renovation.
Restore Decor profits were supplemented by church donations and a Habitat grant for materials and supplies.
Today, the home has a second floor, an attached two-car garage, a front porch and a wooden deck, as well as a new roof, vinyl siding, new windows and doors, new wiring, plumbing and insulation, zoned heating and cooling and new paint, carpet, tile and wood floors.
“The only thing that’s old is that beautiful tree in the front yard,” Joe joked. “It’s a sugar maple. It’s gorgeous.”
A half-dozen core volunteers have been assisted by scores of other local residents, including plumbing and electrical union members, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students and Sam’s Club employees.
One of their biggest challenges involved jacking up the house to replace a buckling basement wall.
“Everything was done right,” Greg said, noting the basement was well-tested during recent heavy rains. Only a tiny amount of water trickled from a crack.
On a recent Saturday, five volunteers hit the final rehab stretch. Joe mounted a wooden staircase banister. Bill Pierce cleaned the tile floor in the downstairs bathroom.
I’ve always liked doing this kind of stuff. It’s fun. It’s fulfilling. It’s rewarding. It’s hard work, but it gives you a sense of purpose.
Bill Pierce on mission work
“I’ve always liked doing this kind of stuff,” said Bill, 70, of Maryville, a retired trainman who has gone on eight mission trips to areas hit by tornadoes and floods.
“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s fulfilling. It’s rewarding. It’s hard work, but it gives you a sense of purpose.”
In the kitchen, Greg wiped down stainless-steel appliances with fellow Habitat board member Rob Lewis, 52, chief information officer for a St. Louis accounting firm.
Mark Rich worked quietly upstairs, installing a pedestal sink in the bathroom. He hooked up the toilet a month ago.
“I’m a licensed plumber, and I volunteered to do the plumbing about three years ago,” said Mark, 65, of Glen Carbon. “Then they found out I was a home-builder, and they kept asking for guidance on certain things, so I decided to join the force and just stick it out till the end.”
At a glance
- What: Open house for Habitat home
- When: 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 31
- Where: 922 Grand Ave. in Edwardsville
- List price: To be announced
- Information: Visit www.faithcoalitionedwardsville.com or the Facebook page