Restoration of family history | Community
An old farmhouse stands on a large lot just north of Gladwin on Eagleson Rd. Every generation of the Stickney family has walked the halls of this house since it was built in the early 1900s and now it has opened for fun. of all.
The farm has been a huge project for Amy Walts and her husband, Wayne for the past eight months. The couple have now finished transforming the house into an Airbnb (bed and breakfast for vacation rentals and tourist activities maintained by a host). The decision behind how to remodel the house came from its history.
“We wanted to restore this house to how it originally was,” Amy said. “Some of my father’s earliest memories were from this house, so we strayed from how he remembers them.”
Amy’s father, Brad Lower, a retired police officer, was still young when the house was sold to the family around 1970. Amy believes the house originally belonged to her great-grandparents, Horace and Ada “Nellie” Stickney.
“My great-grandparents got married in 1909 and we’re assuming this farm was built around that time,” Amy said. “Although during the renovation we found logs in the wall from 1907, so we are not sure of the exact date.”
Amy had never met her great-grandparents, although her grandmother, Doris Lower, was born and raised in the house and remembered that the house was located on a thriving farm with many acres of land. The property still owns two of the original five acres of land, however, farming is still a thing of the past.
“My grandmother passed away last fall at almost 99 years old,” Amy said. “If her memory had been clear, she could have told me so many stories about this house and what it was like growing up there. “
After the deaths of Horace and Nellie Stickney, the farm was sold to the family. As Amy and her husband live nearby, the farm has always piqued Amy’s curiosity as a family home for her great-grandparents, grandmother and father at one point. When the house went up for sale, Amy’s in-laws bought the property and used three acres to the east to build another house. Not knowing what to do with the old house, Amy launched an idea.
“As I started to delve into the history of this house and all the old things and photos my grandmother had kept, I really wanted this house to come back to the family,” Amy said. “As my immediate family is very large, I knew we couldn’t move into the house, so my husband and I came up with the idea to restore this place and use it for an Airbnb.”
Restoration was more important work than Amy and her husband anticipated, as she even admitted that if she had known all the work that should have been done, she might not have undertaken it. According to Amy, many renovations have been done over the years and the only original things that remained were a few doors and the carpeted hardwood floors.
“One of our first orders was to remove all that carpet and re-varnish the wood floors,” Amy said.
Other work done in the house included moving the walls, rebuilding the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and entryway, adding a powder room upstairs , repainting almost any surface and structuring the plan of the house as close as possible to the way it was. The duo benefited from the help of others during the restoration, including that of their friend, Kyle LaBrosse, who did a lot of contract work.
“We couldn’t have done this without Kyle’s expertise and the vision we had not to modernize this farm but to bring it back in time,” said Amy. “Kyle and his wife, Kathy and even their kids and other family members helped. He helped find the matching wood trim we needed and matched the stain colors and floor finishes. He is a jack of all trades and has been able to implement everything we have come up with. “
During the restoration, Amy recalled finding remains of beehives between some walls. It brought her back to the moment her father told her how he fell asleep in front of the bees buzzing inside the walls of the house.
“It was amazing to find things in the house that I had always heard stories of,” Amy said.
Restoration work on the house ended a little over a week ago with the first two stays in the house already scheduled. When finished, Amy and her husband listed the house on the Airbnb website and mobile app so others could find a relaxing country getaway. Having stayed at a few Airbnb locations in the past and sought advice from friends and family, Amy and Wayne knew how to furnish the house and how to furnish it for a pleasant stay.
“We asked people ‘what would you like them to be available?’ and made sure to fit, ”Amy said. “We have board games in some of the upstairs children’s bedrooms, a high chair in the dining room, and whatever else you might need in the kitchen to make you feel right at home.”
Amy is upset that her grandmother couldn’t see the house after it was restored, however, after her father visited the house, he knew she would have approved.
“When my dad came here he was about to cry reliving all his memories,” Amy said.
Amy’s aunt lives out of state, but after seeing photos of the restored farmhouse, she shared her memories and compliments with Amy and her family, saying her mother, Doris, would have loved it.
The farm has a Facebook page, A&W Farmhouse, which includes many photos of the house through the restoration stages. Search for the house on the Airbnb website or app if you need to get away from it all to a simpler time.
“For all the hard work we put into it and all of its history, I hope people enjoy the house and enjoy staying here.”