ESCANABA - The welcome mat is out at the Winneroski home, inviting all holiday visitors to come in, stay a while and revel in the friendship and joy of the season while taking in the myriad of Christmas decorations that have been collected by the family throughout the years to compliment the homes traditional dcor.
John and Nancy Winneroski purchased their treasured Cape Cod style home at 408 S. 4th Street in 1972 when their two children, Kevin and Cynthia, were just starting elementary school. For so many reasons the location was absolutely perfect. It had been their dream to live near Ludington Park from the day they moved to Escanaba from Sault Ste. Marie in 1966. So when this "fixer-upper" came up for sale the dream became reality and do-it-yourself restoration to enhance this 1938 beauty has been going on continuously for the past 41 years.
The house had not changed since it was built in 1938. It was in serious need of repair inside and out. To tell the truth, it was pretty hard to love in that condition so dreams of what it could be with tender loving care became the thread to hang onto for Nancy.
The home of John and Nancy Winneroski will be an inviting stop during the Homes for the Holidays tour sponsored by the AAUW.
"Once we were moved in and I had a chance to come to terms with the insurmountable task ahead it was just a matter of getting organized and developing a plan," said Nancy. "I wanted to get rid of the old doors in the living room and kitchen; as a result we met some very nice neighbors. We have very fond memories of Barb Growdon. She and Dick offered us a set of gorgeous french doors that they were replacing. These doors were the perfect solution and to this day they add so much beauty to our home."
As the years went by DIY renovation became a way of life including complete kitchen and bath renovation. Each project was determined by whatever the most important family need was at the time.
Through determination and practice, John has become quite a skilled woodworker, handcrafting all of the wall frame style wainscoting and decorative architectural detail through the entire home, including the front porch fluted pillars. He designed and built the mantel and hearth for the gas fireplace in the living room and also for the faux fireplace in the bedroom over the garage. Both are lavishly decorated for the holidays. Recently, he completed a beautiful serving cart for the family room. AAUW Holiday Home Tour guests are invited to check out all three floors.
Now the emphasis is on the home's facade. A garage door that was original to the house has been replaced with one that reflects the carriage style of Cape Code homes and handcrafted dentil block architectural detail is being added to the home's exterior. Period style outdoor porch lanterns, lamp posts and ground lighting have been installed to expand the warmth of the interior to the exterior. To compliment all of this, Nancy is an avid gardener so beautiful flower gardens fill the entire yard each growing season creating a breathtaking display of color. She also enjoys restoring antique furniture and has refinished their Duncan Phyfe style antique dining room table and chairs twice since they purchased it from a local Van Effen family in the 1970s. Nancy refuses to part with this dining set because of all the wonderful memories it holds of family dinners and special parties.
"We stand back and look at what this house has become and take pride in knowing that for however long this house is ours we have meticulously restored every inch to like-new condition," she said. "We have given it handcrafted architectural grandeur and filled it with incredible love and laughter. From the day we walked over the threshold, this amazing house became the gathering spot for family and friends with a welcoming ambiance all its own making it so alluring that we know our kids and grandkids will always want to come home to vacation every chance they get."
This charming house has a wonderful easy-to-live-in floor plan. A nice size living room, separate formal dining room and island kitchen make up the main floor. Every room has good size windows and the interior has white wood work and wainscoting throughout providing a warm and cheery sun washed environment. Three large bedrooms with walk-in-closets and a full bath fill the upstairs. Several years ago John and Nancy discovered that wall-to-wall carpeting in every room covered beautiful Birdseye Maple Hardwood floors in excellent condition. This revelation led to the decision to return the home to true period style. If a house could say thank you, this one definitely has.
Without a doubt the most used room in the home is the basement level family room constructed when Kevin and Cynthia were starting junior high school. John and Nancy decided early on that this home should be a gathering spot for their children's friends, so turning the basement into a family room became a big challenge. First the coal storage room had to be demolished and a half bath put in. Tung and grove pine stained white was installed to cover the walls and with careful planning three quarters of the basement became a beautifully finished family room.
One of the families' favorite memories is one homecoming when Kevin and Cynthia asked if they could have some friends over to work on their class floats; 70 kids showed up to make float decorations. John and Nancy just took it in stride popping kettles of popcorn and pouring cups full of punch non-stop. This gathering place for their friends continued into college years. The family room has since had a complete makeover and now hosts gatherings for John and Nancy's friends.
Every season is celebrated with special decorations, gardens galore and lots of home cooked family favorites. Like many area families whose children left for college and found employment far from home, the Winneroski family treasures time together since Kevin and family now live in Pittsburgh and Cynthia and family reside in Chicago. Hectic lifestyles often limit visits home so you can be sure when the family is coming for the 4th of July, Thanksgiving or Christmas the house is festooned to meet the occasion and designed to create lifetime memories.
Each Christmas bright twinkling lights, richly colored ornaments, carefully handmade wreaths, garlands, centerpieces and trees welcome guests from the front sidewalk continuing throughout the entire house and yard. First time visitors are always surprised at how much living area this outwardly small house actually has inside and how distinctively it is decorated on all three floors.
The Winneroski's Abstract of Property Title dates back to April, 1864 when Harrison and Nelson Ludington and Daniel Wells Jr., major land owners, hired Surveyor, E.P. Royce to section and sub-divide the land. A large section (including what is now the Winneroski property) was sold to Solomon and Simon Greenhoot in 1886. The following passage is taken from this Abstract of Title:
"Solomon and Simon Greenhoot have been carrying on a general merchandising business in said
City of Escanaba, for a number of years last past and also in purchasing and dealing in lands . . ."
The entire parcel remained in the ownership of the Greenhoot family heirs until a section was sold to Marjorie Anthony in 1933. Longtime residents of Escanaba still refer to the big white house on the corner of Lakeshore and South 4th St. as the "Anthony home" and South 4th St. was originally Dousman Avenue. In 1938 Anthony sold the North 60 feet of Lot 12 to Werner Olson and it was Olson who built this house and immediately rented it to then local attorney, Dennis McGinn and family.
Ownership remained with the Olson family until September of 1972 when, by chance, Werner's son, Arthur Olson, walked into First National Bank where John Winneroski was at that time a vice president and in casual conversation Arthur said, 'I have a home I have been renting out for years and I would really like to sell it." Within a month John and Nancy became the proud new owners of the home at 408 S. 4th Street, Escanaba.
While still known for banking John has spent the last 32 years in insurance starting with the Hupy Agency and now Northern Insurance in Gladstone. Nancy owned and operated Turtle Creek Interiors on Ludington Street from the early 1980's to the late 1990's.