Susan Monahan and Mark Brucks just completed a major renovation of their 1909 home at 145 Thorne St. The home has recently passed the century mark; now upgraded, it is going on to its next 100 years.
Susan and Mark purchased the home in 2008 and moved in March 2009. According to Susan, it’s an American bungalow with its characteristic long, low look and long porch. Since 1909, it has had only four previous owners. And it’s been a family home, never chopped into apartments.
It was built for Sam and Ethel King — they lived there through 1946. Then, from 1947 to 1973, it was owned by George and Mabel Smith. The third family was originally Fred and Marla Miklancic; later, Fred lived there with his second wife, Sherri, from 1973 to 2006. From 2006 to 2008, it was owned by Janice Ingham and Joaquin Torres.
Susan and Mark keep learning about the history of the home. That project meant they were able to meet and develop friendships with descendants of the first three families who lived in the house.
The home was in good shape when Susan and Mark bought it, but they wanted to change some things. Renovation began on the upstairs, then progressed to the main floor. At that point, the couple simply lived upstairs.
While the interior of the home was in disarray, Susan, who likes order, says she was “almost without hope.” But she loves beauty more than order, and the construction was completed.
A priority in the project was to keep the historic integrity of the home, as well as salvage and reuse as much as possible, like windows and siding.
“There are only two new windows in the house,” she says.
The couple worked with RTL Construction, and they are happy with the process
“They are gentlemen,” Susan says.
The company made every effort to reuse the existing materials. The garage ended up being demolished and a new one was built, but siding and windows were repurposed.
The home has three floors, including the full but unfinished basement. And the house is “not new space, it’s rearranged space,” Susan says.
The main and second floors originally had porches, very common in the early 1900s. The exterior lines of the home weren’t expanded, the existing porches were just enclosed
The kitchen has a large walk-through pantry for increased storage. They have kitchen cabinets designed by Mark and built by Phill Thompson of Systematic Wood Designs. These cabinets are made to look like those of the early 1900s, with glass front doors to display the dinnerware inside. The cabinets also have lights underneath them to illuminate the countertop with just the right light.
To honor the history of the home, in the kitchen Susan keeps a framed photograph of the Smith family after a Thanksgiving meal.
The home was designed by architects Lambert and Bailey. Much of the woodwork is long-leaf pine with a very noticeable grain. The floors are vertical-grain, old-growth fir.
When Susan and Mark first looked at the house, they felt at home immediately. It just seemed right.
“It’s like we just knew where we belonged. It was uncanny,” she says. “My husband was really drawn to the large piece of property, so we could have a community garden behind the house.”
On the main and second floors, the design of the home and woodwork is bold and strong. The huge windows were left as they are, letting in the light.
“We don’t do ‘curtainy’ things,” Susan explains.
The plain, no-frills attitude inside and out has a classic look all its own. She likes the brightness of the natural light pouring in; the house is the couple’s window on the world.
Susan’s favorite room is her coffee room in the entryway near the front door and living room.
“It’s a peaceful, wonderful place,” she says.
It’s the perfect quiet room to stop and relax.
The second floor continues the same themes: fabulous woodwork, large rooms with ample amounts of storage, walk-in closets and large windows.
“Both bedrooms have wonderful sunrooms,” she says.
These were former sleeping porches incorporated into the renovations in a different way.
The sunroom on the northeast has a relaxing view of the large garden
“We’re so high up it feels like you’re in the treetops. You can look out to the garden, it’s like a whole other world. It’s like you’re living in the trees,” says Susan.
“We’re grateful to be able to have this house; we do not take this for granted. It’s too big a house for just two people. We’re sensitive to its past,” she says.
The design of the home was very forward-thinking for the time in which it was built. Pocket doors are in use to shut off various areas for heating and privacy, just as they were in the early 1900s.
A future project will be to change some of the landscaping to decrease water usage.
“Low water, high beauty. We want to get the grass replaced and put in water-conserving plants. It can still be lush and beautiful. But we want to do one thing at a time and not get burned out,” she says.
Another wonderful aspect of living there, according to Susan, is the creek that runs through the front yard.
“Bryant Creek – it’s my water feature,” she says. “We are blessed with the creek and house. We’re very fortunate.”
The large home is a comfortable, pleasant space for Susan and Mark and for their many guests.