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Murphys restore family home

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Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 6:00 am


From the time Kari Murphy was a little girl, she dreamed of living in the Mt. Hope home built by her great-grandfather.

"I would come visit my grandparents and tell them I wanted to live in that house," Kari said. She told all her family the house going to be hers one day.

Well, that day came about three years ago. Kari is thrilled to have her children living in the family home.

"My children will be the ninth generation of my family to live on this land," she said. "And the fourth generation to live in this house."

Although she only has an acre where the house sits, her roots are firmly planted there.

The house was built in 1930 with lumber that had been cut from the farm land owned by great-grandfather.

"It was one of the few houses build in The Great Depression," she said. "But the lumber was already cut."

Her great-grandparents, W A. and Lillian Pickens raised 11 children in the big house with five bedrooms.

"The two girls slept downstairs and the boys slept upstairs," Kari said.

When their parents died, Kari's grandfather, Gene Pickens, and one of his brothers, wanted to farm  the land and they bought out their siblings. Gene Pickens wanted the house and he bought his brother's share of the house.

Kari feels like she grew up in the house. Every time she was in it, she would make plans about how she would take care of it and what changes she would make.

After Kari and Ben Murphy married, they lived in a small house almost next door to her dream house.

"I would pass it everyday coming in from work and dream," she said. "I have such great memories of family in this house."

Kari's grandfather died first and later her grandmother died. The house sat empty for 25 years.

"No one lived in the house but the family used it whenever anyone visited and for family reunions," Kari said. "It was still furnished and all the appliances worked. I even had my wedding reception in the front yard."

But with no one living full-time in the house, it began to go down. Family members began to worry about the fate of the beloved home. Then someone asked Kari's father, Allen Pickens, about the house.

"Kari wants it," he said.

Kari and Ben were thrilled. They bought the house from the family and renovations began.

The renovations took almost 10 months Ben said. The family has been living in the house for two and a half years now.

"I love it. I wanted to have the modern conveniences but I wanted to keep the character of the craftsman style home," Keri said.

"The house was in really great shape," Ben said.

"I opened up the rooms  from the kitchen to the living room" she said. "I planned the changes."

"The only problem came when she changed the plan after it was started," Ben said.

In the dining room, a bar replaced a wall between the kitchen and dining room. But the some furniture stayed. With the wall gone, a large china cabinet was moved to another wall.

"I wanted to keep the china cabinet. When I told our carpenter he said it was a good thing because the piece was too big to move out of the room.

Another piece of furniture she kept was the oval dining room table made by her great-great-grandfather.

When new cabinets went into a modern kitchen, the old cabinet went upstairs to a sitting room.

Ben still has a hard time believing he and two other men got the cabinet up the narrow stairs.

"It will stay here because there is no way it is coming down the stairs," he said.

Kari converted two bedrooms into bathrooms and told the carpenter to add as many closets as he could find room for.

Kari said a couple of rooms had been added to the original home. A bathroom was built on for her grandmother and there was a screened in back porch. Windows leading from the house to those rooms were taken out by Kari in the update. The screened-in porch became a sunroom.

"Keeping all the wood work around the doors and the original doors helped preserve the feeling of the house," Ben said.

All but the kitchen and hall have the original flooring.

"The kitchen and hall had asbestos tile covering the floor and we had to replace the wood," Ben said.

The walls of the rooms upstairs had something like thick wallpaper on them.

"When we pulled the wallpaper down, we found tongue and groove lumber for walls," Ben said.

"We had all the new sheetrock in the downstairs," Kari said. "The upstairs had never had sheetrock before."

All the fireplaces in the house are original. Kari loves the fireplace in the living room with the signature craftsman bookcases on either side.

Almost every room in the house is now decked out for Christmas. Stockings hang from the mantel in the living room. There are Christmas trees in the living room and sun room and several Christmas villages both up stairs and down.

The home is filled with family heirlooms and great family memories with more special memories in the making. The home is a perfect place for Kari and Ben to raise two sons – Cole, 3, and 1-year-old William.

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