503 West Avenue Detailed Information

2756 Sq Ft.

4 bedrooms /1.75 bathrooms

American Foursquare Style

81 windows

History

In early 1910, Elmer and Carrie Rice hired prominent local architect Paul Rissmann to design their new home on West Avenue. Mr. Rice was an executive at Elyria Savings and Loan (named President of the bank in 1920) and also was Treasurer for the City of Elyria. Carrie Rice was the daughter of prominent Lorain County citizen O.F. Carter, a former county treasurer and mayor of Oberlin. The Rice's moved into their new home in the early Spring of 1911 after residing on Chestnut Street for many years. The Rice family had one child, a son named Robert, who was attending Columbia University pursuing a law degree at this time.

On Feb. 28, 1933 Elmer Rice passed away. Carrie Rice continued to reside in the home for a total of 38 years, passing away at home on Nov. 30, 1949.

Their son, Robert Rice, inherited the home and chose to sell it. He actually had trouble selling it as this was now 1950 and such large houses were very much out of style. After about 6 months on the market, he put what seems an odd advertisement in the newspaper in July 1950: " I Don't HAVE To Sell---But - I'd LIKE To Sell 503 WEST AVE. Brick and shingle, 6 rooms. Full attic. Full basement at ground level. Brick Garage. Lot 61.5 x 170 feet. Appraised by the two most conservative Elyria real estate appraisers at $22,235 ($218,289 in 2015 dollars!) with allowance of $735 for repairs, net value $21,500. Ideal for family needing 3 or 4 bedrooms. Can be made into 3 or 4 apartments at reasonable cost. (Thank goodness this didn't happen!) If not sold by August 1st, I shall make the repairs, take it off the 'For Sale' market and hold it until the next "housing shortage". But, until Aug 1st, I'll consider any offer that does not insult my intelligence and take $1000 less than after that date. ... BOB RICE" 

The house had some various short term residents before the J. Scott and Catherine Morrison family purchased it in about 1956. A family of 5 children, this 4 bedroom house probably served their purposes nicely. Also J. Scott owned a barber shop nearby at the corner of 6th and Middle. They eventually sold the home in 1977. 

From 1977-1984 Frank & Patricia Creyaufmiller owned the home. After a few more various short term residents the next long term residents were Paul & Nancy Carrell from 1989-2000. Then from 2000-2009 Eric & Theresa Dummitt. Current owners Matt & Shannon Swabb have owned the home since 2009. 

Quirks

Two odd stats you may have noted above are the 1.75 bathrooms and the 81 windows.

The house still has its original footprint with no major changes in its history. It was built with a tiny 1/2 bath (sink and toilet) on the first floor, A full bath and 1/4 bath on the second floor. A 1/4 bath?  The 1/4 bath, which is original, has just a sink in it and it sits between 2 bedrooms like a jack & jill bathroom except only a sink with a medicine cabinet above. There is no room for any other fixtures in this hallway like room which has 2 full size doors to separate it from the bedrooms. 

80 windows in a 2756 sq foot house seems like a lot and it is. At the time of this houses design, 1910, our research has shown this was done for various reasons: lighting, heat from the sun in winter, air flow in the summer, more windows also meant you could afford them and must be well off. And most of these 81 windows are quite large. Most with multiple 'lights' in the sashes. There are 13 windows in the unfinished attic alone. 15 windows in the basement, several of those full size sash windows. The garage has 3 full size operating sash windows. That leaves 49 windows for the first and second floors. There is not much wall space in this house, leaving decorating and furniture placement always a challenge. 

Changes

Previous owners replaced the original back porch with a large deck; the slate roof to asphalt; and the original kitchen to modern cabinets. The original butlers pantry cabinets are gone as well as most of the kitchen cabinets (one large cabinet still remains!). 7 windows had leaded glass in the upper sashes that were stolen in the 1970's. The leaded glass front door panel and sidelights were removed in the 1980's. Only 3 leaded glass sashes remain in the house. The pier mirror above the fireplace and its woodwork are also missing. Most of the lighting was replaced.

Original

Layout: Completely 1910 original 

Woodwork: The house retains all its original woodwork, with the first floor 'public' rooms quarter sawn white oak (aka tiger oak).

Floors: The house still retains all its original floors throughout. The first floor, minus the kitchen, are oak with pine carpet centers in the 3 main rooms. The kitchen retains its original pine floors which originally were covered by linoleum in 1910. (That original 1910 linoleum flooring is in the attic currently!) The second floor has pine floors and the full bathroom has its original hexagon porcelain tile floor.

Bathrooms: Only the 1/4 and 1/2 bath retain their original sinks with original faucets.

Windows: All original except the seven missing their leaded glass sashes. And only the upper sashes on those are not original. 3 linen closets are original.

Projects by current owners

The current owners firmly believe in restoration over remodeling and replacement. 

Biggest project was restoring every single window to complete and total original working condition. (After restoring all 80 windows himself, homeowner is now an expert window restorer!)

All wood floors were refinished.

The first floor 1/2 bath has been restored to 1910 condition. With an antique 1910 octagonal low tank toilet purchased & installed with the sink & its faucets restored. The decor in 1910 style.

Exterior stained wood shingle siding was completely replaced with similar due to originals poor condition. 

Extensive gardens have been installed around the property. With rustic, perennial gardens in the back to meld with the woods and river.

In 2017, Kitchen remodel/restoration: the 1989 kitchen cabinets were removed and custom made 1910 style cabinetry were installed. And restored the missing butlers pantry cabinetry area to a hidden laundry/storage center in a 1910 style cabinet.

Much further in the future plans are to reroof with slate or something similar. And to replace the modern back deck with a back porch that is fitting with the houses style.