The old square brick Emerick-Ford homestead on County Road S had been vacant about a dozen years when Dr. Robert Nyce and Tom Spiess decided to buy it in 1990.
It was overgrown, Tom recalls, and a tree had fallen and damaged one corner of the structure.
“When Doc and I purchased the property, most people thought the house would be torn down,” Tom said. “We chose to repair and reconstruct.”
He’s glad they made that decision because now one of the oldest homes in the area is still standing and back in good condition.
The house was restored and sold, and since then there have been two more owners before Tom bought it once again.
He's done extensive remodeling in recent months and the home is nearly ready for sale or rent.
"It was built by one of Fayette's original founding families," Tom said. The first members of the Emerick family settled in the area by 1840.
The house was built in 1870, two years before the incorporation of the village, when Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House. Twenty-two years after the Emerick house was built, Fayette Normal University was built to the southwest.
The two-story, 1,078 square foot house was surrounded by the family farm of more than 30 acres, with property on both sides of the road. The barn and other outbuildings are long gone, but the granary still exists, although it's been moved to a new location.
In the 1960s, several acres were sold for construction of Peter Stamping and for the village water treatment plant, and 15 acres remain. Some of the old ways were slow to change, Tom said, noting that an outhouse was still in use into the 1970s.
The symmetrical Georgian style home once included a kitchen, a coal-room and an add-on porch that were removed in the 1990s. At that time, the first floor included a dining room, pantry, front room and bedroom. Currently there’s a kitchen, living room and study. There are three bedrooms upstairs.
The full basement is made of native stone and the house walls are double brick without studs. The interior walls are plaster on brick.
Jim Bacon remembers the house well because his step-grandfather, Dorey Ford, was the owner at one time. In fact, Jim says, this is the house where he was born, although he doesn't know which room was the scene of his arrival.