Indianapolis area home is a well of history
by Joshua Palmer
When Karen and Steven Ivy moved to Indianapolis in 2000, they faced all the transitions that came with living in a new city. It turns out the home they purchased became the most welcoming feature in their new landscape.
The couple's first relocation decision was to either purchase a new custom-built home, like their previous residence in Carrolton, Texas, or to purchase an existing home. When Karen, a teacher, and Steven, a health care executive, first visited the 140-year-old farmhouse at 4747 Guion Road in Pike Township, their question was answered.
"When I shop for a home, it's an emotional experience," Karen says. "I felt like the house opened up its arms and wrapped them around me."
That's because the home is a well of history with stories passed from one owner to the next. According to the Ivys, Henry Kissell first built the home around 1860 as the farmhouse for his 200-acre farm. He had purchased the property from Jeremiah Guion, the namesake of Pike Township's Guion Creek area. Features like enormous hand-hewn foundation timbers still bearing a carpenter's ax marks and hardwood floors of black walnut hint at the original owner's reliance on materials found on or near the property.
Every subsequent owner has left their own indelible mark on the home. In 1920, the Quinn sisters bought the home and property, raising hogs and building an addition that doubled the home's size. The expanded living space was built in austere Shaker style with simply adorned molding and trim and poplar floors, a notable contrast to the original structure's more formal trim, ornate registers and detailed brass-hardware doors.
The home changed hands again in 1958 when the Pritchard family moved in, building a new kitchen and dining room addition and selling most of the property's acreage, which later became the subdivisions that now surround its borders. The farm's original horse barn and chicken brood still stand on the remaining acre of property today.
The Hamm family came to own the property in 1975, adding custom stained-glass window transoms to the doorways of the 1860s portion of the home. In 1998, the next owner, Larry Altstiel, refinished hardwood floors and retextured the original plaster walls.
The Ivys added their touch by installing a new sidewalk, a custom deck and new laminate wood flooring in the kitchen. Through their seven years as the home's owners, the Ivys say they've met a family member from each previous owner who has returned to visit the old homestead and share warm memories.
"From meeting the different people who lived here, we've found this house has a very happy history," Karen says. "It's like the feelings of the good things that have happened in this house have stayed here."