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Totally Tudor; Lockport couple feel right at home in house built decades ago in the English style

Growing up in Lockport, Deborah Franco always admired the English Tudor-style house in her neighborhood.

"When I was a little girl, this was my favorite house," Franco said.

Today, she calls the place home. The chimney pots, distinctive Tudor windows, door hardware and decorative moldings, tile and plaster work remain part of its charm for Deborah and her husband, Ronald A. Franco.

The house was built in the 1920s for Montford Crouch Holley, a prominent Mason poet and lawyer whose daughter attended architecture school in England, according to the Francos.

The house had a few other owners before the Francos bought it 10 years ago.

Now empty-nesters -- daughter Amanda and her family live close by, while son Alex is a sophomore at Loyola University Chicago -- their 3,500-square-foot home still suits them.

The three grandchildren -- and dachshund, Winston -- have plenty of room to roam. Deborah, a watercolorist, enjoys her art studio off the detached garage. They have converted one of the four bedrooms into a TV room. And the library is ideal for displaying items collected from their travels.

"We've always had a bit of passion for traditional English style," said Ron Franco, an American Airlines pilot who names Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and C.S. Lewis as favorite historical figures.

"When we moved in, we felt the house had been built in 1924 and 1925 as if it were for us," said Franco, a retired Air Force Reserve pilot with the 914th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls. He flew combat missions in both Gulf wars, humanitarian relief support in Africa and United Nations' missions in Bosnia.

The home is said to be a replica of a house in London. Plaster of Paris covers the walls. The living room is beamed, while the cream-colored, decorative ceiling in the dining room features fish and floret motifs.

The exterior is a combination of brick, timbers and stucco. The slate roof is gabled with curved ends. A porte-cochere opens into the front vestibule. The home also has three porches and terraces with garden walls and floors of flagstone and red quarry tiles.

One covered terrace, with ornate decorative iron grillwork on the windows, functions as an outdoor dining room in nice weather. The grillwork is unique on each window.

"Nothing is uniform. They took the time to do that back then," said Deborah Franco, who works for RAPTIM International Travel in Lewiston, which specializes in travel arrangements for humanitarian efforts.

According to individual contracts written up for items within the home -- the masonry, the walls, etc. -- all had to be done in specific detail, she said.

While the kitchen was remodeled by a former owner and the home has such modern features as a security system, much about the house is original -- from pull-chain toilets and decorative bath tiles to lighting fixtures and fireplace mantels.

Deborah Franco noted that since the house had so many light fixtures -- including imported chandeliers and wall sconces -- they got rid of some of their own lamps when they moved in.

Most of the furniture from their previous home fit right in, however. Only new bedroom furniture needed to be purchased.

Unique details are found throughout. An exterior doorknob resembles a lion; an interior knob, a man's face. A door knocker greets guests, but smaller door knockers of various styles also are found on bedroom doors.

Built-in closets and wardrobes contain multiple drawers, sliding doors and pull-out rods -- features you would typically find in a Tudor home in London, Deborah Franco said. A "cold room" is located off the kitchen.

Christmas decorations include large, fresh wreaths, garland on the main staircase banister and a collection of nutcrackers on the mantel in the living room, where the 9-foot fir from Jurek Plantations is found.

And there is plenty to look at in the library. Displayed here are items reflecting Ron Franco's passion for aviation and space flight, as well as items collected from Scotland, England, Italy, France, Austria, Russia, Central America and the Middle East.

Also found here: an oar signed by son Alex's fellow crew team members from Canisius High School (2006-2010), presented to Ron on Father's Day.

Elsewhere in the home, several of Deborah's watercolor paintings and a woven rug recall her volunteer mission to Azerbaijan some years back. Deborah and Alex also volunteered at a refugee camp in Africa in 2008.

In fact, a sign on the main entrance to their home reads "Karibu," which is Swahili. It means "Welcome."


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