Dan and Diana Brooker bought their century-old house in 2008, and it’s been one fix-it-up project after another ever since. Simple things included installing contemporary chandeliers in several rooms and adding new coats of paint, some of which the Brookers did themselves.
But tackling major jobs — gutting the kitchen, tearing out walls, replacing box gutters, updating and expanding bathrooms, plastering and rebuilding the front porch — was beyond their skill level.
After seven years, you might think they would be exhausted with this old house. But they approach projects with seemingly unflagging energy and enthusiasm.
“It’s been an adventure,” said Diana Brooker, a partner in Barron & Brooker Group, a division of Keller Williams. “I love houses. That’s why I’m in real estate.,” she said. Dan Brooker works at Toyota.
Luckily for their house at 604 South Broadway, Diana has a background in interior and industrial design and facilities management. She has been less daunted by projects that might cause the faint-hearted to wilt, like the prospect of replacing all the windows in the three-story house.
The Brookers’ house is one of five that will be open Sunday for the 24th annual Holiday Homes Tour sponsored by the Scott County Arts Consortium. The houses are within easy walking distance of each other, just a few blocks south of Main Street.
Past tours have included estates and large churches, said Jan AtLee, chairwoman of the consortium board.
“The homes this year are ones within the (financial) reach of a lot of people. But it does mean giving them a good bit of attention.”
This year’s tour might be called Restoration 101 because of the extensive work the Brookers and other owners have done on their houses.
Bob Davin’s home at 116 Highland Court, which he and his wife Mary Beth have lived in for 26 years, will be on the tour.
“My ‘voice of experience’ for others is to have a good general contractor,” he said. “Our contractor points out things that need to be done. I can’t always do them, but I know what they are.”
The Brookers and their four children moved from a house on five acres about five miles outside of town in 2008 to their home on South Broadway. Their Victorian house was built about 100 years earlier by G. H. Nunnelley, a leading Georgetown builder at the time, and owner of the local lumber company.
Diana Brooker served as her own general contractor, but she has reliable workmen she turned to when she gutted the kitchen, opened up the original backdoor that had been covered over and cut a new window for a view into the backyard. An island was added and hardwood floors installed.
The dropped ceiling was removed, and the ceiling taken back to its original 10-foot height. Kitchen cupboards extend to the ceiling for more storage space. Her latest idea is to “blow out the ceiling and put in wooden beams in there.” That’s in the future, but it’s on the list.
A first-floor study was converted to the master bedroom with the adjoining half-bath expanded into a full-size bathroom, painted sparkling white with white marble floors.
The house has three bedrooms on the second floor. The third floor is partially finished with a bedroom and storage space. The Brookers have one daughter still at home, and three adult children.
From time to time, Diana Brooker calls Preservation Kentucky, a statewide non-profit historic preservation organization, for advice on projects, like whether the old windows throughout the house should be replaced or repaired.
“They said repair the old windows, then get good quality storm windows that have a good seal,” she said. Check, that’s done.
The most recent job was to rebuild the front porch starting with a new stone foundation and flooring, and restoring 10 columns, several of which were badly damaged in a hail storm.
The cost of new columns was going to be $2,000 each. Instead of buying new, Diana’s brother came to Georgetown for six weeks and took down all the columns. They were hollow and cracking from the inside out because of water pouring down inside. Each was painstakingly repaired, with new bases and decorative tops added. He also replaced the beams and trim around the porch. The porch is now a favorite spot to sit in the summer, she said.
To a visitor, the house looks beautiful, inside and out. But Diana sees “a lot yet to do.” Like turning the third floor bedroom into a room with a large-screen TV where everybody can hang out when they come home. She also wants to paint the living room and landscape the yard.
“I’m obsessive, can you tell?” she laughed. “Every once in a while you have to step back and take a breath. Then we start again,” she said.
Her neighbor Bob Divan voiced a similar sentiment. “If you live in an old house, it’s always something. It’s just a matter of having the money to do it,” he said.
Proceeds from Sunday’s tour will go toward renovation of the 1892 jail, part of the Scott County Arts & Cultural/Welcome Center complex at 117 North Water Street. Victorian clothes and accessories will be for sale from 3-5 p.m. Sunday at the Old Jailer’s House, part of the welcome center.
Reach Beverly Fortune, former Herald-Leader reporter, at firstname.lastname@example.org: 859-948-7846
Scott County Arts Consortium Holiday House Tour
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Five historic houses in Georgetown: 604 South Broadway, 105 Highland Court, 109 Highland Court, 116 Highland Court, 514 Estill Court
Admission: $10 per person. Purchase tickets and maps at any of the five houses or at the Old Jailer’s House, 117 North Water Street.