PEA RIDGE The house that sits on Laughlin Hill, so named by the owners who undertook the enormous renovation of the original building from the 1890s, has been for sale for two and a half years. The 930-square-foot original building is now 2,300.
“Now why wouldn’t anyone want to buy this house?” said Fonda Laughlin as she moved through it nostalgically.
“I guess the market’s not there. It’s a unique property and if you’re not looking for something like this, it’s not going to sell,” Laughlin said.
The house sits on three acres atop a hill overlooking Pickens Street in Pea Ridge. The time of year when the leaves have fallen from the trees is the only time it can be seen by passersby.
The Laughlins bought thehouse from Charles Day, son of the late Clyde “Pea Ridge” Day, 14 years ago. It was the location, the land and the enormous trees that made them even consider undertaking the hard work to make this place livable. They also owned the bed and breakfast next door.
“I had just moved from North Carolina and I said ‘Are you serious?’” Laughlin said referring to the first thought of purchasing the house. “It should have been condemned.”
The Laughlins first thought to tear it down and build new.
But they heard about it’s history from the people of Pea Ridge and everyone told them they couldn’t destroy it.
“Everything we touched fell apart,” she said.
And so began the project that is still not completely finished.
They had help from communitymembers, friends and foster children living with them at the time.
The house was jacked up four and a half feet and the ground underneath was hand-dug to pour a foundation, a project that took months. Now, it looks like it was built that way.
“The worst job was getting rid of the insulation.” Laughlin said. When they cleaned out the insulation in the attic, it fell through the floor to a closet underneath and filled the entire space.
“We put masks on, covered ourselves with trash bags and wore big gloves,” she said.
Some of the insulation used in other rooms was old newspapers stuffed in the walls. Laughlin said that on Dec. 6 of one year, they came across a Dec.
6 edition of a newspaper from long ago.
It took a year and a halfto be able to live in two rooms of the house. During the renovation, the family lived in tents and campers. This was one of the best family times Laughlin can recall - there was no cleaning, they didn’t have electricity and everyone just went to bed when it got dark because they couldn’t see anything.
Laughlin’s mother, now deceased, was a cabinet maker for 20 years. She built the cabinets that are now in the kitchen and also the staircase.
“That’s hard to let go,” Laughlin said.
The only original features from the building once used also as a school house and a church are baseboards and the clawfoot tub in the bathroom.
The tub is from 1941, and Laughlin found a 1923 pedestal sink at a flea market to accompany it. She says that is her favorite room in thehouse.
The wood floors on the upper level of the house were the original flooring from the previous one-level structure. There wasn’t enough salvaged to use downstairs so they moved it.
This will be Laughlin’s last holiday season in the house. While she is reminiscent of the times shared here with her family, she is excited about what lies ahead. This year the family will come over for Thanksgiving dinner and a family tradition will take place one last time. The family will decorate the house for Christmas on Thanksgiving night.
The Laughlin house is one of five in this year’s Tour of Homes, sponsored by the Pea Ridge Historical Society. It is located just east of the intersection of Pickens and Greene Streets.
News, Pages 1 on 11/25/2009
Print Headline: Early school house renovated for family home