Diamond in the Rough

After years of polishing, Jennifer Ransbottom’s South Side home shines.

By Molly McClennen

When Jennifer Ransbottom moved into her newly purchased home at the corner of North Boulevard and Sixth Street, saying she had purchased a diamond in the rough was an understatement.

“The house was literally falling in,” Ransbottom recalls. “You could see outside through the roof. The house was not visible from the street because the yard was so overgrown. It was a crazy move.”

That was the year 2000. Over the past 17 years, Ransbottom has restored the residence to its former elegance. Now, the home and its yard, notable for its profusion of azaleas in the spring, are quite visible to walkers that pass by it on the trail near Four Pole Creek. Its beauty has even inspired local artists, who have given Ransbottom sketches and paintings they have done of her home.

Paul Hardy, a prominent resident of Huntington, built the house in 1924, and for years he hosted an annual Christmas Day party there. The Hardy family lived in the home until they sold it to H.L. and Margaret Clark in 1959. When Margaret entered a nursing home, the residence fell into disrepair and eventually was put up for auction. Ransbottom and her then-husband won the bid and became only the third family to live in the house.

“I had fallen in love with another house and was devastated when we didn’t get to buy it,” Ransbottom says “But something better always comes along.”

The restoration of the home was a team effort, done bit by bit as time and money allowed. After replacing the roof, Ransbottom lived on the third floor, in what had been the quarters for the Hardy family’s servants, while the lower two floors were gutted. In addition to local contractors like Chandler’s, who remodeled the kitchen, and Kotalic Landscaping, who transformed the yard from a jungle into a garden, Ransbottom’s parents often made the trip from Point Pleasant to help.

“My parents were down here every weekend for years after we got the house,” Ransbottom says. “When it was cold they would be inside painting, and when it was warm they would be out working in the yard.”

The carpet was pulled up to reveal the hardwood floors. An original clawfoot bathtub and toilet were refinished. The picture molding throughout the house was restored, along with the brass picture hooks that attach to the molding, eliminating the need to hammer nails into the walls. Creative Kitchens turned the nursery next to the master bedroom into Ransbottom’s dream closet.

“They really maximized space and used every nook and cranny,” she says. “That is a must in any house I live in. I need an amazing closet.”

The home is decorated with gifts from friends and family and items Ransbottom found at estate sales or in antique shops. Two of her first purchases remain some of her favorite pieces in the house: the piano both she and her daughter Sophia play and the bishop’s bench she found in a shop on W. 14th Street. The house Ransbottom had been so disappointed she could not buy had glass finials on the staircase. Years later, she found one of the finials from that house for sale in another antique shop on W. 14th Street. It now adorns the staircase in her home, a reminder that something better does indeed always come along.

“I am glad I didn’t get that house,” Ransbottom says. “I would much rather have this house.”

Local artist Beverly St. Lawrence created a mural for the living room in the style of Zuber et Cie wallpaper, which foregrounds historical scenes on a backdrop of faded gray trees and a yellow and blue sky. Ransbottom and St. Lawrence took photos around Ritter Park, and St. Lawrence used those to create the mural.

“She is an incredible artist who did an amazing job with it,” Ransbottom says.

Ransbottom especially loves the home’s front porch. With its views of the park, it is the perfect spot for entertaining or simply sitting out with friends on a summer evening. The location is certainly an advantage.

“I love living on the South Side,” Ransbottom says. “I can walk out my door and go for a run at the park. I can be downtown in minutes. I can get home in no time if I need to come home for lunch. I can be at the airport in minutes. I am not in my car all the time. This is the best location ever.”

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