The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


May 17, 2012

A home for all time

Fulton couple restore husband’s childhood home

FULTON, Ill. — Maintaining historic value and extending the life of a home has been the main focus for Jon and Vickie Lockhart since they started renovating their 132-year-old house.

The home at 502 10th Avenue was originally built in 1880 near the Fulton water tower.

In 1909, the owner and Fulton’s first paid librarian, Mabel Barrett, moved the house to its current location.

The property was formerly owned by Fulton Corporation at the corner of 10th Avenue and Fifth Street but it had to relocate due to repeated explosions. Barrett moved the house to be closer to the library and downtown area.

“It’s hard to imagine someone moving a house way back in 1909,” Jon said. “They moved the house down the street with logs, in a process called chucking.”

Born and raised in the house, Jon has heard stories of the historical significance of the house for ages. Fixing up the house is something Jon has wanted to do for years and finally the timing is right.

“He has talked about this for as long as I have known him,” Vickie said. “For 30 years or so.”

After living in a condo in Mississippi for several years and traveling due to Vickie’s health problems, the couple wanted to return to Fulton and take care of the project.

Eissens Construction stepped in to help make their ideas a reality, starting work in late November and finishing up the major construction recently. Work needed to be done on the house anyway to take care of a termite problem and further construction revealed an additional problem.

“It’s a good thing we did this project, since we discovered the ground was sinking,” Vickie said. “It could very well be a result of moving the house way back in 1909.”

Several aspects of the house have been kept throughout its long life. The front door made with intricate wood craftsmanship and a special stained-glass window remains a familiar welcome from years past and an integral part of the house.

“I basically told the contractors to just build the house around the door,” Jon said. “It’s such a magnificent piece of work. I can’t even imagine how much work it took to complete something this intricate back then.”

While many of the historic aspects of the building have been restored or kept in tact, the floor plan was completely changed to open up the house. Being a typical Victorian-era house, it contained several small rooms.

“We want to make the house more accessible,” Vickie said. “We want a place we can stay as we age.”

Cleaning the house in preparation for the construction revealed several treasures including an old Monopoly game and several other antiques and family heirlooms. The couple also found old church pews among a unique collection of items from years passed.

Preserving the historic integrity of the home while adding modern conveniences was the goal of the project in hopes to keep the house in good shape for years to come and be an important piece of the community’s history.

“I want this house to last until 2100,” Jon said. “We never had any children, we want to give something back to the community.”

The Lockharts will host a “Biz After 5” event on May 24 from 5 to 6 p.m. at their newly renovated home.   

During the event, special recognition will be given to the contractors involved in the renovation.

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