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Realty Check: Old Northside Victorian

Forty years ago, Realtors didn’t show houses on the Old Northside. It’s hard to imagine now, given the neighborhood’s demand. But when Rick and Cynthia Patton wanted to restore a house there as a young couple, they had to finagle an invitation to a home tour arranged by residents who had recently rediscovered the neighborhood. The couple succeeded—and wound up buying an 1876 Victorian that had been chopped into eight apartments and a Cadillac repair shop.

Over the decades, they restored the home’s marvelous woodwork and wraparound porches. To research the house, they opened the phone book and sent letters to anyone with the same last name as the two families who had owned the home long ago. One responded—a grandson in the family that lived there from 1890 to 1924. He brought pages from a photo album, which the Pattons used to get permission from the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission to rebuild original exterior features. Chief among them is the grand, towered front porch, with turned posts made to match those on the bay window.

Inside, the couple stripped most of the lavish woodwork themselves. Luckily, many features were intact, such as the dining room’s stunning built-in china cabinet and a wall covering called Lincrusta that’s made to look like leather (it has lasted since the 1880s). But upstairs, they had to use a heat gun to work through layers of paint.

The Pattons don’t need 8,500 square feet, four bedrooms, and five bathrooms anymore. They raised two children here (one of whom is now a Realtor specializing in historic houses) and helped lead the area’s renaissance. There isn’t much work left to do, but a house like this, Rick says, is never completely done. The upstairs of the carriage house, a six-car garage, is waiting to be finished as a rental unit.

WANT TO BUY IT?

Address: 1508 N. Broadway St.

List price: $1,175,000

Agent: Seth Patton, Luxcity Realty, 317-796-0661

Fernandez began writing for Indianapolis Monthly in 1995 while studying journalism at Indiana University. One of her freelance assignments required her to join a women's full-tackle football team for a season. She joined the staff in 2005 to edit IM's ancillary publications, including Indianapolis Monthly Home. In 2011, she became a senior editor responsible for the Circle City section as well as coverage of shopping, homes, and design-related topics. Now the director of editorial operations, she lives in Garfield Park.
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