Thirty years ago, after a try at farming, Dick Huff moved his family to Lexington's Penmoken Park.
He figured they'd be there a few years.
"My three boys were young at the time and we just got comfortable in the neighborhood," said Huff. "We just ended up staying."
The boys are grown and gone, but Huff still lives at 132 Penmoken with his wife, Marilyn. Their home was an ongoing do-it-yourself project for the "semi-retired" contractor. And now he's taken on another rehab challenge in the neighborhood.
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Since last summer Huff has been renovating another house on Penmoken. It's all part of what he sees as the next cycle in life of the neighborhood. His project and the project of his neighbors, Bill and Mary Parker, are just a few of the renovation and rehab efforts on the tree-lined street where the branches seem to form a comforting cocoon from the nearby bustle of the city.
"All last summer we were both out working on the outside of our houses in the hot summer," he said.
"New subdivisions, I just don't like new subdivisions and I think there are a lot of people who feel that way," said Huff, dressed in well-worn jeans with a yellow pencil tucked behind one ear as he gave a tour of the house on the street just off Nicholasville Road. "You just get a lot more settled neighborly kind of feeling in these older neighborhoods."
The current rehab project at 148 Penmoken was a challenge, but the experienced contractor saw what could be.
"It was a good straight house so there was something for me to work with," said Huff. "The house was really, really rough but it was straight and could be rehabbed. If the house doesn't have a foundation you are wasting your time."
He kept some of the original floors and, with a lot of work, managed to save the original fireplace in the living room of the house built in 1948. But, he said, much of what was there had to be removed. The interior walls were replastered. Insulation was added to the outside. The unfinished upstairs was turned into a bedroom/bathroom combination perfect for a teenager, much like the space he created for his own boys.
"There are all new windows, all new ceilings, new electric, new plumbing and new furnace," he said.
He took out a downstairs wall to add closet space to one of the two downstairs bedrooms, rehabbed the downstairs bath completely and added a pantry and a space for the washer and dryer off the kitchen.
Ninety-nine percent of he work he did himself.
Huff plans to put the property on the market soon for about $160,000 and he hopes to find a buyer who will put down roots in the neighborhood, as it seems to be entering a new phase.
When he moved there, he said, there were lots of young families with kids. Over the years the kids grew up and moved away and the original owners died or moved on. Now, he said, "we have a lot of babies on the street."
"It just has come around," he said.