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The History of Saving the House

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The History of Saving the House

A committee spear headed by Ella Handy convinced the city to save the house for a museum. In 1964 The Lake Shore Women’s Club proposed collecting appropriate furnishings. A committee chaired by Ella Handy, included Oliva Hill, Rena Titus Thoma, Dorothy Duff, Maze Shultz, Louise Beard Archibald and Marian DeVorn. Women’s Club members solicited other organizations to donate antiques. Mayor John Picken and the council approved saving the house for a museum. The city could not help finance the restoration
The Avon Lake Historical Society was formed August 16, 1969. Ella Handy worked to get the house on the National Register of Historic Houses. Women’s club members and other organizations helped get the House ready for tours. An open house was one of the highlights of the Avon Lake Sesquicentennial- June 14 – 22, 1969.

Restoration was to proceed as funds were available, but in 1975 the water heating system burst and caused extensive damage. The Friends of the Peter Miller House committee was formed in 1980, but in 1985 as the house continued to deteriorate the future of the house was in Jeopardy.

An ad hoc committee appointed by Mayor Hausrod was given another chance to raise money. Gerry Paine, Les Andersen, John Kneipper, Glendalee Burns, Phil Bruder and Bill Blakeslee took on the project. Card parties, flea markets, membership drives and fund raising was in motion. As the economy improved local contractors were generous with their help. Bud Novotny moved the house. A basement was dug and he moved the house back. Kopf Construction sent employees to work on the exterior and furnished materials. An annex from the back door to the brick root cellar was added. Kiwanis primed and painted the exterior.

Avon-on-the-Lake Garden Club cleaned old bricks for a sidewalk. Under Glendalee Burns direction an herb garden was planted. Members along with other volunteers worked inside the house and received the Garden Club of Ohio blue ribbon award for Historic Preservation.

Local contractors and business owners helped save the house. The outside was restored. When General Motors closed its Fisher-Guide Plant in Elyria; it allowed employees to draw full base pay and benefits for work on community projects. Two men were assigned to the Peter Miller House. They almost left as the first job was stripping nine coats of paint from the woodwork. When they saw the black walnut wood and the rest of the volunteers working they decided to stay. They were excited as the inside took on a new look. One worked for three months and the other was there for a year. Gerry Paine had to be there while they were working but felt it was worth it to have the free labor. Guy Seekings stopped by and did volunteer carpenter work.

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