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Formerly uninhabitable home makes Historic Homes Tour

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
April 10, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated April 9, 2011 at 11:10 p.m.

Marcia Kauffman leads a Historic Home Tour at 1707 N. Vine Street in the house of Joni Brown on Sunday. The house originally belonged to F.S. Ferguson and was relocated by Brown when she bought it in 2010. The tour showed the synergy of its original construction with modern touches.

When Joni Brown bought the historic F.S. Ferguson property in May 2010, it was uninhabitable and in need of complete refurbishing.

But that didn't deter the Victoria resident from acquiring the 80-year-old home and relocating the structure to its current location at 1707 North Vine St.

"It had lovely bones," Brown said, describing the home in its former location. "I just felt that it had real possibilities."

The Ferguson home formerly rested at 801 N. Washington St. and 803 N. Washington as a rental property for F.S. Ferguson. Ferguson once owned the Princess Theater and acted as a silent partner for Atzenhoffer Chevrolet in the 1920s. Through the years, the home had many owners, including Ed Atzenhoffer, Charles A. Wagner, Ernest Moss and Joy Eiland, and John Handley.

Brown purchased the home May 30, 2010, and the North Vine lot the same week. A few weeks later, she hired a contractor to refurbish the home to her satisfaction. She started the almost-$90,000 project in July of last year. Completion took six months.

"This is its third life and it sits here like it's been here its whole life," Brown, an executive director for Contractors Safety Council of Port Lavaca, said.

Now fully restored and elegantly decorated with an Asian-inspired theme, Brown's once-lifeless home became one of six featured residential properties in the Victoria Preservation Inc. 25th Historic Homes Tour on Saturday and Sunday.

As part of the tour, the home was open to the public and visitors stopped by throughout the weekend to walk through the 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house.

Inside, the decor included a mix of bold patterns and soft paint hues, punctuated by exotic furniture and wall hangings collected during Brown's many international travels.

"I wanted this home to be a place of peace," Brown said. "I feel that it definitely is that."

Marcia Kauffman, a volunteer docent, guided tours Sunday at Brown's home, describing the synergy of the property's modern and original elements to visitors.

Though walls and entryways were modified slightly, many original elements of the 1931 structure - such as the living room's built-in cabinetry, and the historic oak hardwoods - remain, she explained. A wrap-around porch was added to the side and rear of the home, and a detached garage with an efficiency apartment was erected in the back.

"The tours are going very well; yesterday it was really crowded and today we've had about 30-50 people," Kauffman said about 1 p.m. "I took the tour myself yesterday and I've enjoyed the diversity of all the homes."

Brown is now fully settled into her historic home and has enjoyed every minute of finding its potential.

"I love this area. I work in Port Lavaca, but I choose to live in Victoria. I love Old Victoria and I'm committed to the history here," she said. "I've had a great experience with this house and I plan to share it."



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