Cheryl Miller is a woman who knows what she wants when she goes house hunting.
“I have a thing for wood, fireplaces and porches in old homes,” says Cheryl when speaking about the search for a home in Winterset. She and her husband, Mike, moved from Minneapolis to West Des Moines in the early 1990s because of a job change for him. While visiting the Covered Bridge Festival, they decided Winterset was the place for them. Their home, located at 59 W. Buchanan St., became theirs in 1995 just as the home celebrated its 100th birthday.
The Miller’s 1895 Victorian four-square home was originally a farmhouse in the country. In the 1940s, a foundation was built and the home was moved to its current location off of John Wayne Drive. The house’s thick abstract tells its life as a parsonage, a nursing home, and a multiple apartment dwelling. In the 1980s, the home was restored to a single family dwelling. The Millers often have people stopping to tell them about how they or a relative lived in their home.
The home does not have the fireplace Cheryl longed for, but it does have some original wood floors made of unidentifiable wood, a hand-turned walnut staircase railing that was uncovered in the ’80s remodel, a big front porch and beautiful corbels. Typical to a house of this style and age, the main living areas are featured on the first floor with four bedrooms located upstairs. First and second floor additions were added at some time to the back side of the house allowing space for another bathroom on the second story. This recently remodeled bathroom showcases intricate basket weave ceramic tile on the floor. The staircase railing is still held together by square nails, and the beams in the basement are clearly made from rough-hewn tree trunks.
Three years ago, the entire exterior of the house was remodeled in dark charcoal. The porch was rebuilt, and great care was taken to preserve the corbels along the roofline.
“I insisted we not lose the character of the outside,” Cheryl says. Hours were spent deliberating over just the right front door, and a slider and side deck were added.
Mike commutes to work every day, and Cheryl is pursuing her dream job as an artist. They keep busy raising two teenage sons.