The square nails and rough hewn lumber suggests that the
818 Center Street was built more than 100 years ago. Many Ashland
natives refer to it as the Hunter house, since the John L. Hunter
family bought it in 1913 and members of the family lived there for
the next 30 years. In fact, George Hunter, a son who lived in
Wadsworth, confirmed that his grandparents, Thomas and Kate
Hunter, bought the house in 1882. It could have been built shortly
after the Citizens Bank developed this land in the early 1870s or
after the bank failed in 1877.
When Olive Williams was a little girl, she lived in the house before the family moved to 208 West Walnut Street, where she was courted by Charles F. Kettering and became his wife.
On February 24, 1984, the McFredericks bought the house from the estate of Catherine E. Kriescher, She had owned the house since 1945. Work began in the winter of 1984. The house was jacked up and made level, a process involving removing chimneys and bolting the upper studs to the lower ones. McFrederick estimates he made 40 trips to the landfill in the process of shoring up the house.
When it was done, the family was able to move into the upper rooms while they worked on the lower interior rooms. The family, consisting at that time of the couple and four young sons, “camped out” in the upper rooms. From July to November, the house had no kitchen and the family had to take many meals out. At one time, three double beds were set up in one room. The boys, Rodd, 14, Luke, 11, Jacob, 8, and Joey, 6, helped in every facet of the renovation.The next major change came when they enclosed the existing side porch, making it into a foyer. This involved moving the location of the front door to the enclosed area and constructing a windowed wall where the front entrance had been.
Several openings in the living room were closed when the drywall was put in to allow for better furniture placement. The dining room and kitchen have oak floors and McFrederick made the kitchen cupboards of pine and added a wheat design on the front.
Mrs. McFrederick did most of the decorating and wallpapering herself. She laid the tile in the downstairs bathroom so that an old-fashioned claw-footed tub could be moved down from the upstairs bath. Thirteen days later she entered the hospital to give birth to the couple’s fifth child, a daughter Molly.
When the interior was completed, a new porch was added to the front of the home. Mrs. McFrederick thought a porch “would give the house a little more charm,” and the couple “scoured all the junk shops in the area” for the fittings to retain the authentic look of the Victorian-style home.
Some of the spindles used came from a house in Savannah; some moldings and gingerbread came from other area houses as McFrederick “knocked on doors to find anyone who wanted to give up their spindles.” On either side of the front door are nine paneled stained glass windows salvaged from a house that was being torn down in Mansfield.
The couple found a commercial line of authentic Victorian colors to use on the exterior. The main color is Renwick rose. Renwick beige and Rockwood red are the shades used for the trim, shutters and gingerbread.
The major landscaping challenge consisted of clearing some overgrown hedges blocking a clear view of the home. Raised flower beds in the back yard and a concrete patio and curving front walk enhanced the grounds. The project took a lot of hard work and more than a year and a half to reach its present stage of completion.