Arny and Karen Engman weren’t looking for a house when a friend called Karen one morning and said “You have to see this house.”
The house was a large white Colonial-style historic home located at 345 42nd St., south of Grand Avenue and built in 1885.
“We walked in and just felt like it was the right place,” Karen says. “It was big and airy. We had three kids and two dogs… It was just kind of funny because we weren’t looking for it.”
They were living north of the area, but had purchased a lot in a western suburb subdivision with plans to later build a house.
“This is more in keeping with our style — the old trees, the neighborhood,” Karen says of the historic house. “So, it all worked out in the end.”
The first floor was covered in blue carpet when the family moved in. Arny says one evening the couple had dinner with neighbors and learned there were wooden floors with a unique herringbone pattern underneath. They began ripping up the carpet as soon as they returned home that evening.
The Engmans made other updates to the house — remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, removed wallpaper throughout the house, added central air conditioning and had built-in seating added to the bay window in the dining room. They also had leaded glass added to the bay windows to give it an historic feel.
“The only instructions I gave them was we wanted it to look like it was here originally,” Arny says.
The couple has many memories of the years they have spent in the home.
There was an asphalt tennis court located in the back of the property. The family played tennis at first, but then decided to turn it into an ice skating rink on which their kids and their children’s friends could play hockey.
Traditionally, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the family would lay out a large piece of plastic over the court and fill it with water for about two days. By Christmas, it would be frozen enough to play hockey until mid-February. The family’s children are grown, and they recently removed the tennis court and had sod laid in its place.
One of the couple’s daughters also was married on the property. She walked down the aisle between the rows of double hemlock bushes that are still in front of the family’s home.