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Home of the Week: Putting an old house back together

When Nell Gardner bought her house near Spencerport in 2018, the land was overgrown and the house needed new windows, roof, repair of walls and ceilings, and much more. Using skills she learned growing up, Gardner, along with a friend and hired professionals, restored the 1912 house and 1800s barn.

Gardner worked as a horticulturist at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House on Jewett Parkway and also spearheaded the landscape restoration at Graycliff, the Wright-designed Martins’ former summer home in Derby.

Here is what she wrote for our Home of the Week online feature. Be sure to click on the photo gallery below:

"I grew up from ages 12-19 on an old-fashioned horse-powered farm on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. I did not go to high school or follow a home school program. I taught myself math and science and did the required reading and reports that my parents required.

"I learned a lot of practical skills: milking a cow, making cheese and butter, cutting and splitting wood with hand tools, scything hay, and building a log cabin. Having no high school diploma and no formal test scores, I talked my way into Nova Scotia Agricultural College where I won an international Intercollegiate cattle judging championship.

"Several years later I came to New York State and attended Cornell University where I graduated with a degree in agronomy.

"With the many skills learned growing up, I have restored several houses that had blue tarps on the roof and were in foreclosure. After surviving some of my adventures as a child, nothing scared me, not even falling in roofs and raccoons in the attic.

"I love putting a house back together with historic colors, old lights, plumbing, and trim boards from the era. Barns are my favorite to restore, their pride and usefulness returned from sadness and neglect. So much care and sturdiness built into their post and beam frames.

"You can feel the history and the people that cared so much, worked so hard, and paved the way for us," she wrote.

The old barn, before restoration. (Photo courtesy Nell Gardner)

Do you love your house enough to show it off? This could be your chance.

In fall 2017, The Buffalo News Home & Style section launched a digital feature called “Home of the Week.” It’s been highly popular. Who doesn’t like to peek inside other people’s homes – especially local ones?

Since launching, readers have regularly sent in photos and described what they love about their homes.

We have featured old city homes, townhouses, a riverside ranch, a rural cabin, a penthouse apartment and many more.

Here’s what you need to do if you’re interested in submitting your residence for Home of the Week: Tell us about your home in 150 words or less, and email 10 high-resolution images (in JPEG form) of the interior (and exterior, if you wish) to

It’s OK to send the images split among several emails. Please include your name and the city or town where you live. A phone number is also helpful.

We will contact those chosen to be featured on We will include your first and last names and the city or town in which you reside, but not your exact address and certainly not your phone number.

Single-family homes, condominiums, lofts and apartments are eligible. For this digital feature, we will publish some or all of the photos you submitted.

Questions? Problems submitting photos? Please email Home & Style Editor Susan Martin at

Here is another one of our Home of the Week features:

Home of the Week: A beloved old farmhouse in Hamburg


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