TEMPLE TERRACE — Over time, an historic dwelling on South Glenn Arven Avenue overlooking the No. 7 fairway of the city’s famed golf course earned a reputation of its own.
In its early years it was revered as one of the city’s distinctive 1920s-era homes, many of which had built-in maid’s quarters and were owned by wealthy Northerners who traded the region’s cold and dreary winters in exchange for Temple Terrace’s temperate climate and more tranquil lifestyle.
However, when the Great Depression hit in 1929, its decade-long devastating economic impact forced many of those homeowners to unload or abandoned their Temple Terrace homes.
The once chic home designed in 1926 by noted architect Dwight James Baum and constructed at 219 S. Glen Arven Ave., fell into a state of neglect and disrepair.
“Neighbors called it the ‘scary house,’” said Greg Barnhill, who together with his partner, Chuck Kaelin, purchased the house in October 2011.
They’ve since transformed the dilapidated home — one that many thought would eventually be demolished — into a showplace for area residents to feast their eyes upon, and for the owners to want to make it their forever home.
Barnhill said the 3,100-square-foot home they purchased for $130,000 was recently appraised at $500,000.
But they have no plans to sell it, like they did with the 27 bungalows Barnhill brought and renovated in Seminole Heights.
“We call this our ALF (assisted living facility),” he mused. “That’s because we intend to stay in this house.”
A good portion of the time, energy and dollars they put into the home’s year-long restoration project — which Barnhill more aptly termed “reconstruction” — was due to the home’s original structural deficiencies, coupled with a house fire in the 1940s and ensuing water damage. The house also incurred some settling issues as it aged.
City planners approved several code variances in the rebuilding process, and in doing so, were impressed with the couple’s desire and fortitude to forge ahead with the renovation project despite the time-consuming and arduous permitting process.
In turn, the city’s community development department, under the supervision of director Charles Stephenson, saw fit to nominate the Barnhill and Kaelin home for the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission’s 31st Annual Planning & Design Awards’ Historic Preservation/Restoration category.
The winner will be announced Thursday, Oct. 17, during a dinner and awards-presentation ceremony at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
“I think they didn’t expect all the hurdles they would have to jump over,” Stephenson said. “The much easier thing for them would have been to tear the structure down, but they went through the time and effort and money to restore the home.”
“We appreciate that because we like to see some of those old historic homes salvaged and restored,” he added.
To begin with, the couple added a front porch with Cuban-tile flooring, and replaced the home’s flat roof with one that is pitched and trimmed in Mediterranean tiles.
Inside, they raised the first-floor ceiling and created an exposed oak-beam effect throughout the lower level of the two-story dwelling. They removed the paneling on the walls and installed all new windows, many of which were custom made.
The original kitchen was converted into a dining room, and the home’s original attached two-car garage was transformed into a kitchen that overlooks the family room, with a bird’s-eye view of the golf course.
The roof of the maid’s quarters on top of what had been the garage, was raised about three inches to perfectly conform to the home’s height, before it was transfigured into a second-floor guest room and full bath.
In addition, the upper level master bedroom suite was enlarged to include an adjoining double-sink bathroom, as well as French doors leading from the bedroom to a veranda above the front porch.
A detached two-car garage also was constructed on the south side of the house.
Several other amenities were added, such as a large screened-in room adjacent to the dining room and an additional outdoor patio off a second-floor balcony overlooking a newly created fish pond. New 1920s-style light fixtures and switches were used to enhance the charm of the house.
“Above all else, I wanted to maintain the historical character of the house,” said Barnhill, who noted because his father was a builder he grew up in one new home after another and never saw lasting value in any of them.
He is grateful city officials took notice of he and Kaelin’s effort to preserve a 1920s home.
“They were willing to work with us knowing not every aspect was in conjunction with the city’s building code,” said Barnhill, a University of South Florida graduate with a degree in finance and management, who is pursuing an additional degree in architecture at USF.
Temple Terrace City Councilman and Temple Terrace Preservation Society Past President Grant Rimbey said Barnhill is exactly the type of resident the city needs to attract attention to its rich history.
“He is educated and has an appreciation for history and is willing to use his resources to bring his historic property back to its former glory,” Rimbey said.
Tim Lancaster, the current Temple Terrace Preservation Society president, agreed.
“It’s wonderful Greg and Chuck saw the cultural value of the structure and were willing to invest so much time, effort and money to preserve – actually reinvent – the home, as it had suffered terribly through the years,” Lancaster said.
“It’s also wonderful that their efforts are being rewarded with this planning commission award nomination. I wish them luck,” he added.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.