Category Archives: Willey-Allhands House

The Big House gets an Open House

I was there to see the finished renovation.

The Historic Landmarks Foundation did a great job of renovating the Willey-Allhands House. I wouldn’t call it a complete restoration but the house clearly maintains it’s history. I was good to see it so well taken care of.

I have a couple videos that I’m going to give to HLF, one is my wedding video and the other was a video I made while walking around the house. Both videos are now more than 12 years old so they will show what the house looked like when we lived in it.

When I find the link to the Open House from the paper I’ll update this page with it.

P.S. It’s still weird to be in it and look out the windows and not see what is suppose to be there. You know how if you look a light bulb long enough and then look around you can still see the light bulb in the middle of your vision.
Well looking out my old bedroom window is the same way, when I looked out of it yesterday all I saw with my eyes was grass but my mind super-imposed the garage, driveway, basketball goal and everything else that used to be there.

Open house at restored Jeffersonville landmark

Historic Landmarks Foundation dedicates new office to serve southern Indiana

After a move from the path of hospital development, the historic Willey-Allhands House is ready to welcome visitors. Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana dedicates the newly restored 1902 house in Jeffersonville as its southern regional office on Saturday, August 7. A public open house and reception follow the dedication

WHAT: Dedication of the newly restored Willey-Allhands House as the Southern Regional Office of Historic Landmarks, followed by public open house. (Photos available: call Mindi Woolman at Historic Landmarks, 800-450-4534)

WHO: J. Reid Williamson, Jr., President, Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, Greg Sekula, Director, Historic Landmarks’ Southern Regional Office, The Hon. Robert Waiz, Mayor of Jeffersonville

WHEN: Saturday, August 7, 2004. Dedication and ribbon-cutting 2:15 p.m.; house open to the public following the dedication until 4 p.m.

WHERE: Willey-Allhands House, 115 West Chestnut Street, Jeffersonville

WHY: Historic Landmarks celebrates the restoration and reuse of a southern Indiana landmark and introduces the public to the house and the preservation services offered to residents of 15 southern Indiana counties from the new office quartered in the building.

Contact: Greg Sekula, Historic Landmarks Southern Regional Office (Jeffersonville), 812-232-4534,, or Tina Connor, Historic Landmarks (Indianapolis), 317-639-4534 / 800-450-4534

The Big House, I was there today

It was very weird to be there.

My Mom took me out to lunch today for my birthday (which was yesterday) and before we went to Buckheads she took me to where they moved the old house and were refurbishing it.

My Mom said it seemed smaller but I don’t think so. My head was playing tricks on me because when I looked out of my old bedroom window I didn’t see what I was suppose to see. Or any window for that matter.

They have changed a lot of the stuff, they are mostly painting now. I thought when the Historical Landmarks Foundation refurbished a house they tried to make it the way it was when it was built, not so.

I had a flood of memories. Then we drove back to where the house was built (now a parking lot for the hospital) and the garage remains, which seems funny and out of place. I realize the garage was added many years after the house was originally built and they must not have considered it part of the history.

I looked around the house for about twenty minutes, it just felt wrong, like it wasn’t suppose to be there.

The southern Indiana Dept. of the Historical Landmarks Foundation is making it their office. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.

Old House becoming new home

Landmarks Foundation to move into building it moved in Jeff.

The Courier-Journal

Neglected and way past its prime, the 101-year-old building created quite a spectacle as it rolled slowly down the middle of Spring Street in Jeffersonville last May.

Seven months later it is undergoing a complete makeover in preparation for a coming-out party in June.

The Willey-Allhands house, built in 1902 at 105 Sparks Ave., stood there until it was saved from the wrecking ball and moved to 115 W. Chestnut St. The structure had to go because its owner and neighbor, Clark Memorial Hospital, needed the land it stood on for more parking.

The Southern Regional Office of the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana stepped in to accept the building as a donation from the hospital and moved all 115 tons and 2½ stories to the new address next to the foundation’s headquarters.


Joseph Rubel repaired the plaster in the Willey-Allhands house, which will soon become the home of the Southern Regional Office of the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.

The $300,000 makeover is nearly done, and the foundation is planning to move into the 2,900-square-foot space on June 1. “It shows that you can take a building that’s been neglected and targeted for demolition and make it into a showcase,” said Greg Sekula, the foundation’s executive director.

Sekula said it’s also a way to reintroduce period construction into an urban landscape that has lost buildings. That’s all the more important after losing a half a block of buildings on nearby Spring Street in a fire last month.

The Landmarks Foundation describes the Willey-Allhands house as a free classic with colonial revival embellishments.

“It’s got a kind of a split personality,” Sekula said.

It started out as a late Victorian house until a major remodeling in the late 1930s and early 1940s added the classical colonial revival touches, he said.

One of the building’s most prominent features is a porte cochere, something of an oversized forerunner to the modern carport. It’s a covering about 14 feet high that extends 12 feet or so over the driveway, designed to afford carriage riders a sheltered entry to the house.

The Willey-Allhands house was moved from 105 Sparks Ave. in Jeffersonville, where it was built in 1902, to 115 W. Chestnut St. last May 18.

The home is named for its first owner, Frank Willey, and the Allhands family that later occupied it for more than 40 years. A fact sheet calls it “one of the last remaining vestiges of an enclave of once-fashionable, middle-class residential structures” built in its section of Jeffersonville in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

When the Landmarks Foundation moves into Willey-Allhands, it will be leaving behind an even older building that the organization helped to save in the 1980s — the Grisamore House at 113 W. Chestnut St. The combination Federal and Greek Revival style structure was built as a double residence for brothers David and Wilson Grisamore in 1837.

A steady decline culminated in a 1981 fire that gutted the Grisamore House. It was purchased by local preservationists who invited the Landmarks Foundation to help in its restoration.

The foundation has had its office at Grisamore since 1983. The organization is now trying to sell the building, which has several business tenants, to pay off a loan for the renovation of Willey-Allhands.

“It basically shows that we are continuing our mission to save historic buildings,” Sekula said.

Historic house’s relocation creates own memory lane

Walter Tutt was headed to the store for breakfast yesterday when he noticed the house in the road.

The Courier-Journal

The 21/2-story building — weighing 115 tons — sat atop 80 hydraulic wheels and inched down Spring Street, making its way from its home of 100 years to a lot less than half a mile away in downtown Jeffersonville.

The sight made Tutt forget his breakfast.

PHOTOS BY CHRIS HALL, SPECIAL TO THE COURIER-JOURNALTom Popp delayed his morning ride to watch as the Willey House was relocated in Jeffersonville, Ind. “It’s pretty incredible,” he said. The house, which was built in 1902, was transported less than half a mile.The move and renovation of the building will cost $280,000 to $300,000.

At 7 a.m. he stood at the corner of 10th and Spring streets, next to downed traffic lights and various utility cables and wires, and watched in amazement as the historic Willey House was moved down one of Jeffersonville’s busiest thoroughfares.

“This is wild,” said Tutt, 44, grinning and shaking his head. “I think this is fascinating. I’ve seen them do it a couple of times, but never one this big.”

The journey of the 2,900-square-foot Frank Willey House drew about 100 gawkers yesterday morning — people who woke as early as 5 a.m. to see a piece of history rolled down the street in an effort to preserve the city’s past.

“My God, this is impressive,” said Keith Stayton, president of the Jeff/Clark Preservation Committee, as the house lumbered along Spring Street’s commercial district. “It’s wonderful they’re saving this.”

The house, formerly at 105 Sparks Ave., had faced demolition.

Built in 1902, the Willey House had seen ever-expanding Clark Memorial Hospital next door eat up more and more of the land around it. Eventually, it was one of only a handful of residences left in the area, a remnant of the once fashionable middle-class neighborhood at the top of Spring Street.

The hospital purchased the house a few years ago and had decided last year to raze it to make way for much-needed emergency room parking.

But the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana intervened. And the hospital agreed to donate the house — which it had used in recent years for storage — and $7,000 to see the building moved from the site to a vacant lot at 115 W. Chestnut St., next to the foundation’s office.

Les Weedin waited to replace a line that was taken down. The house barely squeaked by several poles and electrical transformers.

The gray, Queen Anne-style house will fit in with the older homes there, Stayton said. Others along the route yesterday agreed that moving it was a better option than knocking it down.

“It’s obvious the house has historical value, that they’re willing to do this,” Tutt said. “I’d rather see it go to good use than be torn down and go to waste.”

The move took about three hours, slowed by dozens of overhead wires that crisscross Spring Street.

The wires had to be either raised higher than 42 feet above the ground or dropped to the ground and surrounded by wooden pallets to protect them from being crushed. The work drew employees from Cinergy, Insight Cable and Ameritech, who worked for hours adjusting, removing and then reinstalling their lines.

Meanwhile, Jeffersonville city work crews removed street lights and overhead traffic signals. Still, the house barely squeaked by several telephone poles and electrical transformers along the way.

Tom Popp stopped his bicycle ride through downtown, circling around to watch the building as it inched past streetlights and signposts.

“It’s pretty incredible,” he said.

Nearby, Jacky Rescher and her husband, John, had brought their 4-year-old grandson Drew Etheridge to watch.

Drew was familiar with the house because Jacky Rescher works at the hospital. He woke up early to see what he called the “house with wheels” roll down the street, as his grandmother took pictures that he could take to his preschool’s show-and-tell.

“This is history,” Rescher said. “This may never happen again in his lifetime.”

The house is called the Frank Willey house after its first owner, but for more than 60 years, members of the Allhands family lived at 105 Sparks Ave.

For years, art teacher Elizabeth Allhands lived in the home alone until her death in the late 1980s, said Joan Siewert, her great-niece.

Elizabeth, the youngest of three sisters, didn’t drive and instead walked everywhere — including up Spring Street to Mass at St. Augustine’s Church each day, Siewert said. The memory nearly made her cry yesterday.

“This is like Elizabeth walking down the street the last time,” she said.

Siewert remembers visiting the house as a child and being in awe of its rose garden, the separate breakfast room, its porte-cochere — a fancy carport-like structure — and the intricate old harpsichord inside.

She said she was happy the building was being saved but added that it wouldn’t have the same meaning to her in its new location.

“It won’t have the same significance in town,” she said.

The move and renovation of the building will cost $280,000 to $300,000, said Greg Sekula, executive director of the Historic Landmarks Foundation.

That money — much of which will go to pay work crews moving all the overhead wires yesterday — came from local and state grants, along with private donations, he said.

Eventually, the foundation will use the Willey House as its office. It hopes to sell its offices at the restored Grisamore House next door and use the proceeds to pay the remainder of the cost of the Willey House move. Extra money will go toward a fund for the house’s future maintenance, Sekula said.

But before that can happen, a lot of work will have to be done. The Willey House’s journey yesterday ended in a parking lot next to its new home. Today work crews will lower the house onto a hollowed-out spot and then will begin building a basement underneath the house, Sekula said.

The landmarks foundation then will take to the task of rebuilding the three chimneys — the original chimneys were disassembled and the bricks saved for the job — repainting the outside and repairing the home’s tin roof, he said.

The renovation will take from nine months to a year to complete.

Sekula said it will be worth it. Private companies and people don’t often have the money to do such painstaking, difficult work, he said. And the foundation will gain a house that is almost entirely intact inside, with wooden trim and cast-iron fireplaces.

“You couldn’t build a new building today that was like this,” he said.

The Big House


Hey, I lived there. The Big House is what my dad called it when we lived here, everybody knew which house he was referring to.

Historic house gets new lease on life, Group to move Jeffersonville home to new site.

By Ben Z. Hershberg
The Courier-Journal

A 100-year-old house near Clark Memorial Hospital will be moved to save it from demolition.

The Frank Willey house at 105 Sparks Ave. is a structurally sound example of the homes that once filled the neighborhood around Sparks Avenue and Spring Street a century ago, said Greg Sekula, director of the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana office in Jeffersonville.

Cindy Dicken, spokeswoman for the hospital, confirmed that it is giving the house — which recently has been used only for storage — to the landmark foundation.

Greg Sekula, a Historic Landmarks Foundation official, said the vacant lot behind him will be the new home for the Frank Willey house.

”We will be turning that property into a parking lot for emergency services,” Dicken said.

The property is across the street from the emergency-room entrance and a hospital parking lot that is often crowded.

The landmark foundation’s southern regional office plans to move the two-story, 2,900-square-foot woodframe house on April 6, Sekula said. It will be moved near downtown Jeffersonville to 115 W. Chestnut St., next to the 1837 Grisamore House, where the foundation’s Jeffersonville office is located.

The foundation’s office will move to the Willey house after it is relocated and refurbished, Sekula said, and the Grisamore house will be sold.

The painstakingly restored Grisamore House, which has roughly 4,500 square feet of floor space, probably will be priced at around $325,000, Sekula said.

The entryway is indicative of homes that once filled the area around Sparks Avenue and Spring Street.

He hopes it will be used as a home or office, Sekula said, and maintained in its current historically accurate condition.

The move and refurbishing of the Willey house, which was built in 1902, is expected to cost as much as $280,000, Sekula said.

The foundation is still seeking some money for the project, he said, but it has some that will come from preservation grants and Clark Memorial.

Before the Willey house is moved, Sekula said, some exterior features, including a porte-cochere, or carportlike structure, will have to be removed.

The fireplace, above, is one of the architectural accents in the 100-year-old Jeffersonville house, below.

The remainder of the house will then be moved intact to a foundation that will be prepared for it on the empty lot at 115 W. Chestnut, Sekula said. Exterior details will be retouched or replaced in a way that is accurate for the time the house was built, Sekula said.

”It’s one of the last remaining houses in what was a substantial middle-class neighborhood near the hospital,” Sekula said. Its age and style will fit with other buildings on West Chestnut, he said.

The landmark foundation has moved other buildings to save them, Sekula said. But he wasn’t aware of its having moved any historic Jeffersonville houses before.

The foundation also is trying to save the Cardinal Ritter House on Oak Street in New Albany. It has bought and stabilized the century-old house and is considering ideas for refurbishing and reusing it.

The foundation also provides the staff for and consults with the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission.