For the past 28 years, Jim Wiechers has lovingly restored his home at 420 West Sixth Street, bringing its 19th-century charm back to life — one room at a time.
Built in 1893 and registered with both the National Register of Historic Places and the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, the brick, 2½-story Queen Anne Victorian features a large covered front porch and rounded turret, which still has its original slate roof.
“I’ve tried to restore it, not all the way back to original, but to restore and bring back the original elements that were still here,” said Wiechers, who retired from Lexmark and now works part-time as an adjunct professor of electronics at ITT Technical Institute.
There are seven fireplaces, most of which had either been plastered over or the hearth and tile surround had been whitewashed over time. Wiechers stripped away the plaster and white paint on all but one, in each case revealing intricate detailing on the mantels and colorful, decorative ceramic tiles on the fireplace surrounds unique to each room.
Additionally, he stripped away multiple layers of dated linoleum from the kitchen and butler’s pantry area — which he has fashioned into a home office space — revealing the home’s original wood flooring, keeping in style with the original flooring found throughout the rest of the home.
The compact kitchen, though, has been modernized with an updated, center-island layout that maximizes ease of flow between the refrigerator, the range, and the sink and countertop area, which sits below a lovely half-moon window.
“When I bought the home, the kitchen was a 1930s-era kitchen,” Wiechers said. “Most of the house had not been updated since the 1930s.”
To freshen the space, he removed the dated cabinetry that lined the walls and repainted the room’s burnt-orange trim in white. He installed new oak cabinetry and modern appliances and maximized space by adding a built-in banquette bench and table in one corner and positioning the new Jenn-Air range within a triangular island.
Just off the kitchen, there’s a covered, screened-in porch that overlooks the surprisingly deep, fully landscaped back yard. In addition to brick-lined walkways, flower beds and a space for a vegetable garden, the lot also offers a covered, two-car carport.
On the home’s ground floor, which is full of stunning spaces, the entryway is perhaps the most breathtaking with its wraparound, wood staircase and two brightly colored stained glass windows. Stained glass, in fact, appears throughout the home.
In each room boasting the detailing, Wiechers has used the glass motif as the starting point for selecting the room’s wall color.
For example, the home’s parlor boasts light yellow walls, in keeping with the yellow floral detailing of the stained glass window that overlooks West Sixth Street; while the much bolder red walls of the first-floor den pick up the crimson tones of the stained glass there.
Wiechers has filled the historic home with antiques, many of which he acquired at various second-hand and salvage stores in Lexington and Louisville over the past three decades.
The massive, crystal-adorned antique lamp in the home’s parlor — perhaps originally a formal den — was a gift from a friend, and is believed to have come from the home of infamous Lexington madam Belle Breezing.
Upstairs, Wiechers has given two of the home’s four bedrooms nicknames as a result of their antique furnishings.
The Art Deco Room boasts a rounded, sleek 1930s-era bedroom suite, while the Victorian Room features a stunning, five-piece, 19th-century suite crafted from hand-carved walnut with red marble detailing. The room’s intricately carved, mirrored-door armoire stands 9½-feet tall.
“When I find another home, I know I’m going to have to look with this piece in mind,” Wiechers said. “I’ll have to select something with a vaulted ceiling to accommodate this.”
In an effort to downsize, he recently placed his beloved home on the market.
Each of the home’s three full bathrooms have been completely updated, including the most recently added, ultra-modern bathroom off the “man cave,” which Wiechers just finished creating in the home’s formerly unfinished attic.
While he has purposely kept the décor of the home’s two main levels in line with the house’s antique and stately charm, guests to his newly completed attic have no doubt they’ve entered the 21st century.
The attic boasts a bold, black and red theater-like design, with full surround sound set-up, leather reclining home-theater seats, a movie screen, a pool table, a wet bar and an oversized bathroom with a large walk-in tiled shower.
Wiechers worked with Bill Loftin, co-owner of Budget Friendly Contracting LLC, to complete the space.
“People ask me, ‘Why did you finally finish the attic; and now you’re selling the place?’ But it had always been on my bucket list to finish the attic,” Wiechers said. “Now I’ve finished it, and someone else can pick it up from here.”
The renovated attic brings the home’s total square footage to just over 4,300 square feet and offers a unique space in which to relax and unwind. It’s the final, finishing touch culminating many years of restoration and improvements.
“When I first purchased the home, the first priority was to stabilize the home, I guess you could say. I replaced the roof and all the systems, from plumbing and electric to the heating and cooling,” Wiechers said.
“Many of the plaster walls were badly cracked and had to be restored,” he added. “And after that, my goal has simply been to restore and bring back the historic charm as much as possible.”
Over the years, the house has been home to many prominent Lexingtonians, including eminent hardware businessman John T. Miller, who owned the home from 1894 to 1901, and former Lexington mayor Hogan Yancey, who lived in the home between 1901 and 1916.
Wiechers says he feels fortunate to have been a part of that history.
“I’ve really enjoyed living here,” he said. “It’s warm and comfortable and inviting, and it just feels like a home.”