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Home of the Month: A showpiece of a house becomes a home

Just point to the kids. It’s because of them that Lisa and Tim Walsh eventually bought a house in Lockport, leaving behind their home of 23 years in Lancaster.

Their children – now ages 17 to 25 – had classmates from Canisius High School and Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart who lived in Lockport, so the family traveled there frequently. Through their kids, the parents all became friends and Lisa and Tim also got to like the community.

Then one day they discovered that a house they had admired was on the market.

The neoclassical curved semicircular entry porch with fluted columns that soar toward the sky sold them on it. So, too, did the floor-to-ceiling windows, old detail work and 12-foot-high ceilings inside the red-brick home.

The News' Home & Style Editor Susan Martin takes readers inside the historic home of Tim and Lisa Walsh of Lockport.

That was two years ago and they have been updating and improving this 19th-century home ever since – including tackling most jobs themselves.

For starters, the professional couple put on their DIY hats and repainted walls, ceilings and window trim. And Tim refinished several hardwood floors.

Lisa explained that the interior walls are plaster over brick, as is common in historic homes. It makes for a very quiet home, since the walls muffle sound.

The living room. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Other highlights include original plaster cove molding, decorative ceiling with medallion in the living room, fine old woodwork, handsome staircase, multiple fireplaces, a hidden elevator they keep turned off, a large dining room window seat with leaded glass window on the ceiling above it, original front entry doors and grand chandelier, old converted gas-to-electric wall sconces, and brass hardware with individual skeleton key locks on the doors.

“The project this winter is to take off the brass hardware and refinish it all,” said Tim, an administrator at SUNY Buffalo State.

The current dining room and kitchen were likely used by servants as work spaces, since the ceilings are lower than the other rooms in the house and a bell system was installed on a kitchen wall.

To update the eat-in kitchen, the couple painted the off-white wood cabinets white and added new hardware. They replaced the table with a new island with black granite top and black stools. They also installed new Quartzite countertops and stainless-steel appliances but kept the existing ceramic floor.

They also had the downstairs full bath professionally renovated. The asphalt driveway is new as well. The home was on the Explore Buffalo/Palace Theatre Lockport Holiday Homes Tour in 2016.

The kitchen. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

As for that grand porch, Tim said that the story from longtime residents is that it was not original to the home and was added on at the turn of the century.

Tim described the home’s style as originally Italianate but later modified with neoclassical features. These included the addition of the semicircular porch and two-story fluted columns. The porch continues around the house to the porte-cochere – a roofed structure large enough for vehicles to pass through to drop off passengers and shelter them from the elements.

Rumor has it that the large columns were transported on a barge up the Erie Canal, Tim said.

In fact they find much of the house’s history interesting:

• The house was built in 1867 by Hopkins Chillingsworth Pomroy and Mary Curtis Pomroy. Their daughter Alice married William Rand Kenan Jr. In 1912, the Kenans purchased the home that is now the Kenan House on the grounds of the Kenan Center.

• Among the later residents of the home were Jesse Peterson and Arabella A. Peterson, daughter of former Lockport mayor Albert Field Brown. She died in 1929. Her obituary states that “she had long been prominent in the social and musical circles of the city” and that funeral services were held at the home.

• A carriage house, once occupied by chauffeurs, remains. It is one of a few rental income opportunities on the property that appealed to the couple.

• A copper beech tree that may date back 200 years is found on the property, not far from old posts that were once used for horses and carriages. These posts can be seen from the large window above the kitchen sink.

A peek inside the Lockport home:

A window in the TV room (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Layout: The family’s living spaces include a living room, library, dining room, kitchen, full bath, half bath, master bedroom and TV room on the first floor. The second floor features a full bath and two additional bedrooms for their youngest son – a high school senior – and their daughter, who is away at college. Their oldest son lives out of town. The house also has a basement and large unfinished attic.

Colors: Shades of gray on the walls include Chic Grey, Touch of Grey, Samovar Silver and others. The trim is painted Polar Bear white. Other paint colors include Pasha Brown in the TV room, Pale Parsnip in the daughter’s room and Black Sapphire (a deep navy) and Arcade White in the son’s bedroom. Brands are mostly Behr and Sherwin-Williams.

Furniture: Almost everything came from their former home in Lancaster, including the sofa and chair-and-a-half in the living room. The library has a large desk, a wall of built-in bookcases and a baby grand piano. They note that their outdoor furniture from the backyard of their old home is now on the front porch, where they enjoy spending time. It’s been a great way to meet people, they said.

Window treatments: Many of the large windows are left bare so as not to cover their striking design. Where privacy is wanted, simple panels and shades are installed at a height that does not cover the decorative arches at the tops of the windows.

Accessories: Large mirrors, framed artwork, lots of family photos and greenery, including large potted floor plants.

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