PRESERVATION PURSUITS: Historic landmarks group honors those who help preserve the past

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GREENFIELD — Nick Bohney knew the stately Victorian house on Main Street could use a little tender loving care.

So the Greenfield attorney and his wife, Meg, dove right in and bought it in 2016.

They’ve been spending most of their weekends fixing up the 19th century home ever since, but it’s a labor of love.

“We were looking for an older home with character, and had the time and energy and desire to renovate one,” said Bohney, who is thrilled to call the historic house his home.

The couple is keeping the historic nature of the home in mind when doing renovations, giving it cosmetic updates and a strong foundation to usher it through the 21st century.

“These historic homes have so much character and a lot of value,” said Meg Bohney. “You can move into one and it will last another 100 years easily.”

The Bohneys are among a handful of like-minded individuals who were recognized Sunday by Greenfield Historic Landmarks, a nonprofit devoted to preserving the historic district in town.

Three businesses and three homeowners were honored Sunday at Lizabuth Ann’s Kitchen, behind the James Whitcomb Riley Home & Museum.

Posh Salon and Spa, The Depot restaurant and Bradford Builders were recognized for preserving and enhancing local buildings with adaptive reuse awards. Individual homeowners were cited for their preservation efforts at 433 West Main Street, 404 North State Street and 513 West Main Street.

“Greenfield Historic Landmarks works hard on these awards to recognize those in our county who are doing a great job saving our historic architecture,” said president Cathleen Huffman.

“Preserving these structures is important because they help tell the story of our county, and we want to save them for future generations. Plus, the structures themselves are just really neat — full of character, unique features, and a ton of history,” she said.

Awards range from residential preservation and restoration to commercial renovation and adaptive reuse, where an historic structure is used for a new purpose.

Honorees include ambitious homeowners like the Bohneys as well as business owners who have invested in transforming local landmarks into popular downtown destinations — including a salon and restaurant.

This year’s honorees include Depot Street Investments — which converted the city’s historic grain elevator into a restaurant — and Posh Salon and Spa — which converted a former gas station into a stunning hair care center.

Greenfield Historic Landmarks has been recognizing those who renovate and preserve historic architecture since the nonprofit was first formed in 1980.

“Hopefully this recognition will encourage others to do the same,” Huffman said.

Bohney said he and his wife were honored to be among this year’s award recipients.

The couple has spent the past five years sprucing up their home — painstakingly removing wallpaper and adding fresh coats of paint, and tearing up carpet to refinish the original wood floors — but they’re not done yet.

“It’s come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go. It’s an ongoing project,” said Bohney, who enjoys the process of making the house their own, while restoring some of its original features.

He and his wife have received a lot of compliments about the carriage house structure they added to the property behind the house. While it serves as a garage, they took great care to design it to look like a 19th century carriage house that would blend in with the historic nature of their home.

They’re not exactly sure what year the home was built, but research has led them to believe it was built in the late 1880s. A picture they found of the house and the original owner, Jerome Black, is now displayed in the home, along with a court record book which lists Black as a witness in a case that went to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The book, an antique store find, was of particular interest to Bohney, an attorney with Wooten & Hoy in downtown Greenfield.

Bohney hopes his children — ages 1 and 3 years old — grow up to appreciate living in a historic home as much as he and his wife do.

“We were drawn to older homes because they have a lot of character. The location of this home was great, and my wife had a lot of great visions about what it could be,” he said.

“Ours is especially well built. You can see the quality of materials and the craftsmanship that went into everything, which has enabled them to withstand the test of time.”

Since they started their remodeling project five years ago, the Bohneys have noticed a number of other neighbors joining in, making improvements to their own historic homes.

“When you’re working on your house all day every weekend, you start to notice a lot of other people working on it as well. It’s a good feeling to be a part of renovating and restoring the downtown historic area,” he said.