The Restoration

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Overall Plan

The Longnecker House preceded the construction of the Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style Stockman House up the street by just 10 years, so the restoration will highlight the subtle architectural connections between the two.

The plan is to restore the house to an appearance consistent with the residency of the McGhee family (1903-1933, focusing on 1908-1918).

The house was only 5 years old when James McGhee bought it, so the exterior colors, floors, etc. would represent 1898 styles. The interior paint/wallpaper may have been freshened up for the new young family.

The furnishings would probably be a mix of eras.

  • James was married in 1888 and his wife died in childbirth in 1893, so he would probably have a significant number of furnishings from that time.
  • From the surviving family letters, the McGhees seemed inclined to buy new things on a regular basis, so they probably purchased some new furniture after moving in 1903.
  • James' daughter, Ruth, got married around 1909 and then moved back in 1917, so there would likely be furnishings representing those dates as well.

Conveniently, home decorating fashions did not change drastically over most that time, now known as the Edwardian era.

Notes from Google Docs:


  • Spread wild seed mixes from Prairie Moon along the backyard borders.
  • Took the red door off the porch to open it up.
  • Installed the big “chained” neoclassical main kitchen light and moved the neoclassical globe light over the kitchen sink.
  • Finished painting the parlor, the master bedroom walls, the kitchen entryway and the base coat of the kitchen
  • Redesigned the kitchen stencil when couldn’t find the original design (not painted yet)
  • Extended the east side yard grassy area a few feet farther south, transplanting the displaced daylilies under the retention wall (after digging out all the volunteer saplings there)
  • Edged the front driveway, finding almost another foot of cement hiding under the dirt.
  • Cut a thin slab off the biggest stump from the fallen front red cedar section and counted 73 rings the first time, and 80 rings the second time, confirming the aerial photos showing the 4 cedars along the front walk by the 1930s, so at least 80 years old, probably closer to 90 (since the property was rented after 1933 and the main tree trunks are much larger than the one sampled)
  • Dug the hole for the tractor tire garden pond and put the tire in it.
  • Transplanted the 3rd struggling yew from the east fence line to the east side of the house to eventually screen the electrical box.
  • Improved caging around the hydrangea and viburnum in the back yard. Transplanted new oak saplings to replace the one group that died. (The other two were still okay.)
  • Planted the corner boulevard area with marigolds (dwarf gold and regular yellow), stocks and dusty miller. The stocks quickly died. The dusty miller survived. The marigolds thrived although the front edge was a little droughty (watered as needed) and occasionally got trampled by turning traffic (put a few small rocks between the plants to decrease crushing).
  • One of the neighbor’s silver poplars tilted over onto the creekside oaks over the winter. After a few days of spring rain, it fell the rest of the way on the creek bank and only took out a few (big) oak branches. (A few weeks later, its “twin” silver poplar fell into the creek - not our problem.)
  • Last surviving 2018 gingko killed by the neighbor's landscapers (overzealous weedeater).
  • Second floor windows on west and north reglazed and painted, including giant kitchen storm window (thanks to loaned 28-foot ladder).
  • West gable and soffits painted (thanks to the new 32-foot ladder, no thanks to the cat).
  • Windows on east side reglazed and painted, and gable and soffits painted.
  • Second story porch, windows and south gable painted.
  • Transplanted two lilacs from the west side to the east side to face the tennis court driveway, transplanted the struggling hydrangea from there to the curve in the front walk, and shifted the lilac in the front away from the neighbor's spruce trees.
  • Painted the front doors a warm, chocolate brown.


  • Insulated the basement with initial layer of R10 foam panels
  • Transplanted peonies, ferns and day lilies from the neighbors across the street. LOTS of peonies (along front drive, side garden, rail fence), ferns (west side of the house and under the white pines) and daylilies (under the white pines).
  • Also transplanted a few patches of lilies of the valley to the west side of the house.
  • Shifted a sprout of the mock orange farther from the future location of the handicap ramp
  • Cut back the mulberry by the rock wall next to the neighbor’s spruce tree
  • Moved 2 of the 2016 yews from the upper back yard (where they were unhappy) to the border by the traffic circle, joined by a stray burning bush found along the creek
  • Cleared out old porch screens and painted frames dark gray to let the architecture stand out
  • Reseeded backyard with old grass seed.
  • Chopped back the brush/weeds on the hump next to the fire pit to reclaim as lawn
  • Marked volunteer pagoda dogwoods in the backyard in the western mulch border and along the creek
  • Laid old porch carpet to smother the grass in the backyard for the east wildflower border (didn't work)


  • First coats of paint: parlor, dining room ceilings.
  • Painted upper border in kitchen
  • Fixed broken “chain” in downstairs toilet.
  • Planted 6 little gingkos in west yard
  • Planted oaks in backyard (multiple times!)
  • Dealt with sweaty floor problem - partially. Eventually got de-humidifier.
  • Finished clearing side yard, planted grass and started mowing it
  • Took down old curtains in master bedroom
  • Acquired expanding table and black “leather” sofa for parlor
  • Put white/red enamel table in kitchen
  • Cleaned walls in master bedroom
  • Painted exterior kitchen window trim
  • Patched putty on east windows on first floor and covered raw wood
  • Scraped loose paint and applied temporary white paint on exterior porch
  • Halloween dragon, spider web, expanded cemetery, hosted beggars 1st time framed by the open porch door window
  • Improved winter window insulation
  • Insulated mail cabinet (structure done, out of a strange old child’s desk, needs to be refinished yet)


  • Fix running toilet upstairs
  • Strip wallpaper in parlor.
  • First coats of paint: parlor, dining room.
  • Patch/repair rotten window sills: kitchen, stairwell
  • Antique light switches/covers: parlor, hallway, dining room, kitchen (powder room 2016)
  • Cleared side yard, including sand box.
  • Transplant giant hostas, day lilies, lilacs, yuccas (!).
  • Start clearing driveway “hedge”.
  • Fix broken “chain” in downstairs toilet.
  • Mulched property line.
  • Unclog kitchen sink.
  • Patch/repair rotten window sill: dining room lead glass window
  • Re-putty/paint storm windows: stairwell, ⅔ dining room.
  • Put trim pieces back on stairs
  • Halloween - moved spider to oak tree
  • Moved tractor tire.
  • First coat of paint in kitchen.
  • Two-story Christmas tree in tower.
  • Designed kitchen stencil frieze
  • Transplanted lilacs that were crowding the mock orange and Persian lilac


  • Privacy curtains
  • Prepping for electricians
  • Strip wall panels and scrape most wallpaper in powder room
  • Porch - peel carpet, strip vinyl siding
  • Get rid of radiator covers
  • Clean garage eavestroughs
  • Seal roof temporarily
  • Move railroad ties
  • Patch roof
  • Plant forsythias, 3 yews, 1 hydrangea, 1 blue arrow viburnum
  • Transplant smothered peonies from east side yard to flag pole hole.
  • Re-putty/paint windows and storms: porch, kitchen side windows.
  • Professional electrical (new electrical service, grounded outlets, basement conduit, knob-and-tube replaced where accessible, exterior outlets)
  • Self electrical - moved ceiling fans to bedrooms, installed antique lights (parlor, hallway, dining room, kitchen)
  • Backyard fence/barrier - split rail
  • Halloween decorations - cats eyes, spider out bedroom window, skulls in parlor windows
  • Christmas trees