Digging Deeper: Historic Homes of Eau Claire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Digging Deeper: Historic Homes of Eau Claire

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - In light of May being "Historic Preservation Month", News 18 takes a closer look at what makes a property an historic home, what benefits and challenges homeowners face and why they choose to live today with Eau Claire's past.

A step inside these uniquely designed homes is a step back into Eau Claire's past.

Peter Copeland is the third owner of this 1903 Tudor Revival style, “James Barber House”, which occupies the entire block of Marston Avenue. "It's about 6,000 square feet, seven bedrooms, three and a half baths,” Copeland said. “This house is not only on the national register, but it's also on the local landmark registry."

A stroll two streets over is its neighbor the 1894 “Winslow, Arnold, Giffen House”, off of State Street. New homeowners, Julie and Marty Stromberger, recently purchased the Queen Anne style home with hopes to restore, repair and revive the atmosphere. “It's not going to be cheap,” the Strombergers said about the aging repairs. "We've lived in many houses and wanted to do something kind of different,” Julie chuckled. “And, this is definitely different.”

Longtime homeowner of the 1889 John Pinkum House, David Barnes knows an aged house comes with some much needed repairs. “We bought this property in 1988,” Barnes said. “A little cracking there, so that all needs to be repaired. Especially right now, replacing much of the cedar shake mansir roof. It's pricey."

Preserving an historic home can land it on the national, state or local historic registers. In Eau Claire, 480 properties are located in seven historic districts, including neighborhoods in Randall Park, Third Ward, Emery Street, Roosevelt Avenue, Park Company Addition, Confluence and Water Street ward. Of those 480 homes, 75 are on a register. John Mann, the chair of the Eau Claire Landmarks Commission, said there are requirements in order to earn an historic designation. "The structure needs to be 50 years old, needs to retain its integrity and that it needs to meet at least one of three criteria, two of those having to do with history, important people or important events and one having to do with architecture."

While these designations credit properties with historic status, local recognition requires local approval before local repairs can be made. "There are restrictions for being designated a city landmark. And, that also applies to the (James Barber House),” Copeland said. “It doesn't mean you can't make changes. It just means that the changes you make need to be run by the city building people."

Mann said people assume that all historic designations come with some sort of restriction, which is not true. “This requires the construction, which requires a building permit needs approval of the (local) Landmarks Commission. The (local) Landmarks Commission works to make sure that the character defining features are maintained."

Character and charm, age and appearance are what keep a homeowner sharing the rich culture and history for all to see. “(Historic homes) give us a sense of a common past, which is important. They please us aesthetically. They have economic value. "

The Strombergers said they are looking forward to preserving their home in order to share it with the community.

"We just consider it a privilege to be in a home like this

Some of the historic homes News 18 visited have what used to be utilized as ballrooms, a watch tower and servant quarters. The largest of them all, the James Barber House, is on the market for an asking price of nearly $700,000. 

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - For more than a century Eau Claire's history has been written. Tonight, Our Own Jesse Yang gives you a glimpse into some of our city's vintage homes.

There are 480 properties within the seven historic districts in Eau Claire. More than 70 of those properties are designated as an historic property on a national, state or local register.

Join News 18 as we give you an exclusive tour inside three historic homes in Eau Claire. We'll also explain what makes a property an historic home. You'll also hear from their homeowners about the benefits and challenges they face in up-keeping and preserving the place.

New homeowners, Julie and Marty Stromberger, of the 1894 Winslow-Arnold-Giffen House, said they love the charm and character that their new historic home has. However, their summer will consist of making much needed repairs. “Some of (the wooden stairs) don't hold up very well when you touch them. And you can see the steps are in pretty bad shape,” Marty said. “We don't think it would make through another winter. So, beautifying it is one thing, but actually for the integrity of keeping this beautiful home will have to be done this summer."

You may have seen some other historic homes as you're driving in the neighborhood. If you're curious to know what they look like on the inside, Tuesday night is the night you don't want to miss.

The full story of "Historic Homes in Eau Claire" will air Tuesday, May 24 at 10pm on News 18.

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