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.
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.
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