the before exterior of a foursquare
Photo: Matthew Manning
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Before: Abandoned American Foursquare

After seeing dozens of homes and driving past many more, I finally noticed this 1921 American Foursquare in Oakwood, Ohio, on my way to work. The outside was dirty and battered, but I could see the Prairie-style craftsmanship in its exterior. When my wife and I took our first look inside, chunks of plaster were falling down. But the original oak woodwork had never been painted, and the layout wasn't as cramped as many of the older homes we'd seen. I knew this house was the one. Against her better judgment, my wife agreed to take the plunge.

The home had been abandoned for over two years and bought by a bank as a foreclosure. But the bank decided the house was more than they cared to handle, especially with the city citing them for not meeting property codes. So they sold it to us for $13,100 less than they paid! That should have been a giant red flashing billboard that read, "You have no idea what you're in for." But hindsight is 20/20.

Shown: The American Foursquare sat abandoned for two winters, with many of its windows broken.
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