Remarkable Rehab: Rupp/Wilson house refurbished

Written by David Green.


Grasp the handle inside the front door. That’s enough right there to let you know this is no ordinary apartment house.

It probably doesn’t take close-up views of the architectural details. Just stand back on the sidewalk and take it all in.

The old Rupp House on Main Street was far from tip-top shape when Randy Roberts of Adrian decided to buy the property and fix it up.rupphouse

He made another decision that isn’t commonly seen in rehab projects: He wanted the stately house to appear as much as possible as it did 70 years ago.

“We tried to maintain the historical nature,” Randy said, “but we also tried to maintain functionality for today’s living.”

When Lorene (Rupp) Whitehouse was growing up in that house in the 1930s, she probably wouldn’t have complained for a second about the modern kitchen appliances now installed.

She’s both pleased and relieved that the rehabilitation is preserving a large part of the home’s original details.

Randy’s business, Washovia Fire Restoration Services, tackles a major renovation project each year and the Rupp house provided an ample challenge.

The front steps were in such poor repair that mail delivery people refused to climb them. Randy’s crew duplicated the original look of the steps and porch, including refinishing the decorative half-circle grates at the bottom of the porch.

Walls were insulated and the exterior painted the same yellow as it was in the 1930s.

A laundry room had been fashioned on the back porch, but that’s now reopened as it used to be.

A new stairway entrance to the upper apartments was built along the west exterior. After the wood ages a year, the decorative spindles will be painted.rupphousedine

Behind the double doors on the front porch is the main floor two-bedroom apartment, complete with newly sanded hardwood floors, the original built-in bookcases and detailed woodwork, plus a fireplace with large mantel. Some of the original pocket doors remain.

Upstairs, apartment #2 is the smallest, but it’s not small. Like each apartment in the house, there are windows everywhere.

Apartment #3 is in the front of the house, with a hallway down the middle. On the right is a large kitchen; on the left a living area, and in the middle, a door leading to the porch roof with a small area to stand in the sun and get some fresh air.

Another stairway leads to apartment #4 on the third floor. It’s a large open area with three huge closets under the slope of the room and a dormer window to the east.

From all four sides of the upper story, commanding views of the city are offered.

Although the house served as a private home when Lorene’s family owned it, even then some rooms were rented.

In the 1930s, she said, U.S. 20 was closed for rebuilding and traffic was routed through Morenci. Her mother and two other ladies decided to open their houses as “tourist homes.” They each placed a sign in the front yard and the Rupp house was known as Sterling Palace.

Later, teachers and traveling salesmen rented rooms.

“This house had a lot of character,” Randy said, and he wants area residents to satisfy their curiosity and come take a look inside.

An open house is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday before any tenants move in.

    -April 25, 2007 
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016