Return to glory
When they peeled off the fake paneling they discovered not only a bunch of 1970s rock posters still plastered to the walls but the reason someone had covered them up: The walls were in terrible shape from water damage. Further evidence that the roof was shot came one day when a cloudburst produced "interior waterfalls all over the house." In the basement, a 20-inch-wide beam was eaten through by termites; they replaced it with several laminated veneer lumber (LVL) beams. What's more, the house was underbuilt—"It was a miracle that the upstairs hadn't collapsed," says Kara. So they beefed up the ceiling joists with more LVL beams.

Yet they found plenty to inspire them. A lot of stripper and sandpaper revealed beautiful heart-pine columns in the dining room. Entombed behind three courses of brick in the living room were a full-size fireplace and a built-in bookcase. In another happy surprise, the mantel in the smoking parlor (now used as a study) turned out to be a hand-carved delight with an Arts and Crafts tile surround. As Kara and Paula worked their way through the house, they uncovered boarded-up windows in the foyer, tore out acoustic ceiling tiles in some of the rooms to reveal the old 11-foot ceilings, stripped paint-covered heart-pine doors, and took layers of paint and years of tarnish off original brass window hardware.

And then there were the stained-glass windows. Local glass artisan Tom Marr patched the bullet hole in the wisteria panel on-site. He then took the tulip-patterned window out of the smoking parlor to create its twin in his shop. Marr also redid the caming on several leaded-glass windows and a newly installed leaded-glass front door that came from a historic Philadelphia home.

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