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Built in 1890 and first owned by Silas B. Wright, a dry goods salesman, the balloon-framed house just north of the Delmar Loop has survived both an electric fire and demolition. Now, it’s won the Landmarks Association of St. Louis’ Most Enhanced Award for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation thanks to the current owners, Anne and Nate Peterson.

The house has a story of its own, which becomes apparent as soon as you walk though its charming yellow front door.

“Next door was Mrs. Lambert,” 80-year-old Liz Heitman says, gesturing to the red brick one house over. “She was Martha Carr. ... It was in the Post-Dispatch, it was an (advice column) where you could write in, ‘I can’t get along with my husband, what should I do?’”

Heitman lived in this house from 1932 to 1954 with her parents, Ethel and William Benert, who lived in the house until the 1970s. When the Petersons began renovations on the house, they found old newspapers stuffed in the wall from the time when Heitman was a child.

“Liz wrote us this letter recently after we restored the house saying, ‘I used to live here,’” Anne says. Heitman happened to show up on the day of our visit.

Heitman notices that nearly everything has been redone, but there still remains the historic familiarity of the original moldings, the big fireplace and original dark-paneled pocket doors.

The house, which was abandoned after its 2008 electric fire, first caught the Petersons’ eye in 2017 when they were looking to purchase a house in the neighborhood.

“This house was appealing to us just because of the classic look of it, I think,” Anne says. “We liked the just two and a half floors and the front of it. It’s not too big.”

They bought the house for $2,100 at auction in January 2017. By July 2018, they had fully restored it.

“So far we’ve really loved what we’ve done,” Anne says. “We have, of course, many projects still going that we’re trying to finish, but I think that comes with owning a home.”

The Petersons worked with Design Alliance, an architecture firm in the Loop to design their home. Much of their funding came in the form of historic tax credits, grants and loans such as the Live Near Your Work Program, sponsored by Washington University, which gives employees of the university forgivable loans on houses in the neighborhoods surrounding campus.

The Petersons reconfigured the first floor to make the front room the dining room with wide pocket doors that open up to a sunlit kitchen.

“With these bay windows, so much light came in that we knew we wanted this to be the kitchen,” Anne says.

The center of attention in the kitchen is the silver range hood that extends down from the 12-foot ceiling over a gas stove. The Petersons spent weeks looking for this hood before finally finding one tall enough on the Sears outlet showroom floor.

At the back of the house, they turned what used to be the kitchen into a cozy living room with a dark-blue painted mudroom at the back connecting to their outdoor patio and spacious yard.

The Petersons were able to restore the original staircase up to the second floor by peeling off the carpeting and restaining the wood.

The second floor contains a tiny hallway closet, a guestroom, a small front office, a bathroom and the master suite. In the master suite, Nate has built two end tables made out of the house’s original wood. Set in front of their king bed is an oriental rug that Nate’s grandparents brought over from Uzbekistan.

Much of the artwork that’s scattered throughout the home was done by Nate. One particular piece, hangs on the kitchen wall and showcases an array of eight city sketches set in an old-fashioned dark-wood window.

The Petersons like to entertain often — typically once a week.

“We would love to (entertain) more, which is part of the reason we made these two rooms the way that they are,” Anne says about the open dining room and kitchen.

As neither is from St. Louis originally, it was important for the couple to live in a neighborhood with a strong sense of community.

“I think that there’s just a lot of potential to the property,” Nate says. “I think that the neighborhood as a whole has a lot of potential too, to continue to kind of improve.”

Anne and Nate Peterson

Ages • She’s 28 and he’s 29

Occupations • She’s an assistant director of development for Olin Business School at Washington University. He’s an electrical engineer at Boeing.

Home • St. Louis

Family • A cat named Millie

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