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Home of the month: Dutch Colonial 'in heart of Gardenville'

Many people have happy memories of the grandparents’ homes they visited growing up. Jessica Cronenberger has more than memories. She and her husband, John, have the keys to the front door.

The Cronenbergers bought the house shortly after the passing of Jessica’s grandmother, Anna Anderson, in 1984; Jessica’s grandfather, Robert Anderson, had died a half dozen years before that. The Andersons had 24 grandchildren and 36 great grandchildren and most resided locally. Jessica and her four siblings grew up around the corner in the house built by her father, James Anderson.

No wonder the grandparents’ house saw plenty of action. Jessica recalls how all the relatives gathered for Fourth of July parties. Wonderful memories.

The three-bedroom house was always just “the green house,” she said.

“Since it’s first coat of paint in 1929, the color may have changed hues, but always green. It’s always had an Anderson in it, too. My grandparents built this when my dad, the youngest of five, was ready for school and we are the only other owners. We’ve loved this comfy, cozy place in the heart of Gardenville, just uphill of the Buffalo Creek, and we’re lucky to make it ours,” she said.

While the street is busy certain times of the day, “the back is tranquil and alive with wildlife and the sounds of rustling leaves. These past 32 years have seen our updates in this Dutch Colonial, but we’ve kept the heart of the home, adorned with its original wood trims, floors, pedestal tub and sink, and even the trusty laundry chute,” she added.

The homey decor is enhanced not only by family photos but also by pieces from family members. A large white bowl and pitcher set that belonged to John’s grandmother sits on a dresser in an upstairs bedroom. A cultivator outdoors near the pergola belonged to Jessica’s uncle, who was a farmer in Orchard Park.

Then there are the many flea market and other finds. A sign from Mueller’s, an old bakery, hangs in the dining room. Vintage tins are displayed in the kitchen and back room.

The old Hickey’s Flea Market in Clarence was one of his favorite haunts. “It’s how I spent my Sundays,” said John, who before retirement worked for Philipps Bros. Supply.

“He’s a tool man,” said Jessica, who has worked for 38 years as a dental hygienist at Dantonio Dentistry in Cheektowaga.

The exterior has always been green, but different shades. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

The couple said they bought the house for $45,000 and have done many updates – either on their own or working with professionals. The Cronenbergers said they like to do all their own painting, but John – a Kenmore West graduate – has tackled many other projects through the years:

• He added wainscotting and built a linen closet in the upstairs bath.

• As part of a fireplace update, which included adding a gas insert, John refaced the fireplace with bricks removed from an old bank that was being remodeled in Albion. The mantel is original, however.

• In addition to landing flea market finds for the home, John repurposed “found” objects, including a trunk that had been dumped near the creek. “It had old car batteries in it and a bunch of junk,” said John, who brought it home and cleaned it up. It now doubles as a coffee table in the living room and a storage bin for Christmas decorations.

• He converted the light fixture above the dining room table from kerosene to electric. He also fitted a door and sidelights from their previous home into one that now divides the dining and living rooms.

• He built the spacious pergola and deck in the backyard. He installed a zip line and fort for their four grandchildren – ages 5, 6, 7 and 10. He also built a base for a slide using the wood from an old swing set that Jessica’s sister and brother-in-law were happy to pass along.

The floor plan has changed some, too. Jessica’s grandmother’s first-floor sewing room is now a full bath with glass-enclosed shower. A screened-in porch off the kitchen is now a year-round room for dining, reading the morning paper and enjoying a view of the backyard.

A view of the updated kitchen and back room overlooking the deck and yard. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The couple had the kitchen professionally remodeled with hickory cabinets in 1993 – gutting all but the floor and windows – and continued to make updates. They brought in stainless steel appliances 10 years ago. The countertops – a white laminate with gray swirls – were installed last year. The first-floor bath was renovated three years ago.

The Cronenbergers have given much attention to landscaping through the years, including planting evergreens and landscaping around the deck.

Some evergreens came from the National Arbor Day Foundation, where people can donate $10 and get 10 little trees to plant. The grandchildren each planted one in the yard as well. Others were living Christmas trees grown on her uncle’s farm that they later planted.

The backyard is a welcoming retreat. Two fans installed under the pergola cool things off in the summer and help keep mosquitoes away. A patio heater – a Father’s Day gift – extends the season into the fall.

And while the trumpet vine didn’t have a good year, the fireflies were magical, Jessica said.

So much so that a neighbor proposed to his girlfriend out there, after Jessica set out a little table with flowers and champagne and alerted him when the fireflies were out. The girlfriend said yes.
More memories.

“This special home has been loved by many, and hopefully will be ours for years to come,” Jessica said.

The living room. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The blueprint

This Dutch Colonial home in Gardenville was built by Jessica Cronenberger’s grandparents in the late 1920s. Jessica and her husband, John Cronenberger, bought the house and moved from Depew in 1985 with two children, ages 5 and 11.

A peek inside how it looks today:

Layout: Front vestibule opens to the living room with fireplace; a small front sun room is off the living room. A large wood-trimmed opening with door and sidelights leads to the dining room. The kitchen opens to a year-round room, where a screened-in porch once stood. There’s also a first-floor bath with shower. The second floor has three bedrooms and a bath with original tub, toilet, sink and medicine cabinet. There’s also a basement with laundry.

Walls: Paint colors include Balanced Beige in kitchen and upper hallway, Versatile Gray in living room, and Koi Pond in dining room – all from Sherwin-Williams. The upstairs woodwork is painted Greek Villa white; the downstairs woodwork is natural. The master bedroom walls have a textured wallcovering.

Floors: Refinished original oak floors downstairs, which had been covered by linoleum in the kitchen and carpeting in the living and dining rooms and on the stairs; new oak floors in the upstairs hallway; area rugs; ceramic tile in baths; carpeting in bedrooms.

Trunks are a favorite accessory. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

Furnishings: Amish-made solid cherry furniture from Cherry Creek area in master bedroom; living room sofa and chairs from Calvin’s Furniture; flea market finds and repurposed pieces such as old carpenter boxes refinished by John as end tables and an old trunk he found near Buffalo Creek that now serves as a coffee table.

Window treatments: Mini blinds, Roman shades and drapery panels hung on rods with tabs or grommets. The “rod” in the dining room is an old wood, metal and leather ski pole.

Accessories: The now-electrified, 1880s-era “general store” light fixture above the dining room table is the type one sees in old cowboy movies, John said. Flea market finds and family pieces include vintage tins, signs, sleigh bells, farm tools, butter churn and other kitchen utensils.

There are family photos, and Jessica has picked up some favorite accessories at the Olde Steeple in Elma. John’s vintage, restored hand-cranked gas pump placed outside the downstairs bath is a conversation piece.

“I have my stuff; he has his,” Jessica laughed.

– Susan Martin

The upstairs bath has the original tub, sink, toilet and medicine cabinet. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)


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