In 1998, my wife and I purchased a sixty-acre section of land with the intent of constructing a grand Victorian house. We chose this specific section for its rolling hills, its mature trees, and its proximity to Lincoln, Nebraska, the community that we have been a part of for the past twenty years. Once we had chosen the building site, a hill-top that provided the best long-distance vista views, we began the difficult, but enjoyable task of choosing a specific house design. On a trip to Maine, where we perused antique book stores, we found a book containing the illustration above, depicting a late Victorian house that had been built in Kansas City, MO, in 1885. The stone foundation, brick construction, wrap-around porch, and towering roofline caught our attention. This design captured the romantic architectural character of the late Victorian era, and we set out to build a house based very closley on these original plans. The book included a floor plan and some basic dimensions.
We were commited to building this "New-Old house" in an authentic manner, true to the original, and not just an exterior cosmetic treatment. On the inside, we also followed the original floor plan, adding just enough to make it more liveable for 21st-century people (We eliminated the back stairs used by the live-in servant, added a second full bath on the second floor, a main floor powder bath, and a laundry room.). This did not change the original floor plan as much as one would think; the servant's room is used for a sewing room, but could easily be a fourth bedroom. For years, we have enjoyed touring authentic museum houses, studying the interior and exterior details. Executing the construction from old drawings to completion was a daunting task, not a project for the faint of heart. But we believe the final results will stand as a tribute to the Victorian era, even though it was built at the turn of the 20th century, not the 19th century.