Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

At Home: Kirkwood Family Makes New Memories in 160-Year-Old Victorian

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

At Home: Kirkwood Family Makes New Memories in 160-Year-Old Victorian

Article excerpt

Sometimes it just takes the right house to turn "new house people" into "old house people." Such is the case for Ashley and Nate Harrison and their stunning Victorian Italianate home in Kirkwood. The couple had been living in a large, new construction home in Wildwood, but both being from small towns originally, they craved a small-town vibe and wanted to be closer to attractions in the city.

They often went on date nights in Kirkwood, enjoying the restaurants and strolling the quaint downtown streets. One evening, they drove past what would become their future home in the Jefferson-Argonne Historic District. At the time, the house had a pending sale; however, within a few weeks it was back on the market. Nate and Ashley wasted no time taking a look, and it was love at first sight.

Built in 1858, the house is on both the State and National Register of Historic Places. It was originally constructed for local merchant Romanzo Bayley and occupied a 20-acre lot. In 1864, Bayley sold the property to Ellen Pindell Gill (a member of the prominent Bodley family) and her husband, George Gill, giving it its namesake as "The Gill House." George Gill was a trustee of the city of Kirkwood, even lending the city interest-free money at times, as well as an early president of the school board.

From 1920 to 1964, former Kirkwood Mayor Edward Beecher and his wife, Mae, owned the house. After the Beechers, the house had just one other owner, and then stood vacant for seven years (on the market for three) before the Harrisons purchased it in 2015.

A fine example of Victorian Italianate architecture, the exterior of the house features a bracketed cornice, arched windows and the original siding. A barn/carriage-house on the property predates the house itself. Though the home was in well-preserved condition when the Harrisons bought it, an early addition wasn't practical for their busy family of six.

With four kids under age 9 (including 4-year-old twins), the Harrisons needed a main living area with an open concept that was comfortable and contemporary, yet respected the home's history and original style. They embarked on building a new addition, carefully using as many materials as they could salvage from the original. …

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