Nancy Solvera of Carmel, New York, sees the outdated and faded wallpaper on the walls, the exposed wood on the master bedroom ceiling, the peeling paint in the kitchen, and the boarded-up windows of an old, dilapidated Newtonian house. and see something no one has seen before. Another way to look at it: Possibility.
The 112-year-old property at 427 N. Third Ave. E. has certainly seen better days, and Solvera knows better than most. It was owned by her great-grandmother’s sister from 1910 to 1965, and was passed down to her daughters from 1965 to 1985. Solvera remembers the Victorian farmhouse well.
“I grew up with my mother every summer,” said Solvera. “We were with my grandparents, so I was always here. I used to bring my friends here and we lived here in the summer. There are about five other houses in the neighborhood where my family lived.”
But those other properties didn’t resonate with her as much as this house.
Although she lives 1,000 miles away, she visits Newton almost every month. She said her ancestry at Newton dates back to her 1800s. Considering the city wasn’t founded until her 1846, this is an impressive feat. Solvera’s mother, Mary Jo Niskin, still lives in Newton.
Following in the footsteps of her mother, who at age 94 works for the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, Solvera is passionate about preserving the property’s history. So far, she’s documenting her own journey and her progress on her Instagram account @1910carlhouse.
“When I found this, it resonated with me because it’s in my family and I’ve seen it when it’s beautiful,” Solvera said inside the front door of the house. “I’m really into historic preservation. We love old houses and my mom is into them. Maybe we should rebuild our house here in Newton.”
How the hell did she find this place?
While visiting the town, Solvera was shown some of the old family homes. The house she remembered from her childhood had since been abandoned, weathered, and fell victim to squatters.
By the time she got home to New York, Solvera couldn’t stop thinking about her old house. After working with her former owner’s attorney, Solvera was able to acquire the house and begin the process of preserving it.
During a recent trip to Newton, Solvera visited the house. A local contractor, Roger Sizer, cleared out materials and trash that had accumulated in her house before Solvera arrived. Among the waste were also treasures such as vintage her RCA Victor his radio and an ornate doorbell. But Sorbella’s main interest was wanting to see this space.
Saiser said there was “about five to six feet” of debris in every room before he and his crew started trashing everything in the spring. It took months. Several items have been recovered for Solvera to sift through. These are memorabilia that can bring out the historic character of the home.
Flashlight in hand, Solvera toured the house on August 1st. The house is aging and, given the extent of the damage to the structure, it will require a lot of work and a lot of money. But instead of letting the thought scare her away, Solvera strengthened her resolve to complete the project.
“Maybe I have too much or I’m crazy,” Solvera said. “But once I make up my mind, I pretty much do it. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there, but I think it will be… I’m so excited. I’m so excited to find out what happens next.” I’m just trying to do something good.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext 560 or email@example.com.