About 20 years ago, Jessica Voelker called her history-loving mom with news that she had found the perfect house.
Barbara Green was amazed when she first walked through the landmark residence in Dundee. Built in 1911, it had been a boarding house before becoming the rectory for St. Margaret Mary. It then reverted to a single-family home when the parish moved west.
Everywhere she and husband Patrick looked were unique architectural details: An ornate ceiling and marble steps in the sunroom, a carved fireplace, decorative wrought iron installed by Monsignor Joseph Suneg, pastor for SMM. Even a powder room with a door said to be from a confessional.
“We loved it because of the history, the details and the neighborhood,’’ Green says. “Just the detail is fabulous.’’
Now Green is saying goodbye. The stairs are too much for someone turning three-quarters of a century old, she says. And although she enjoys the easy convenience of the restaurants and theater in Dundee, the neighborhood is becoming a little too busy.
She’s moving to a ranch-style home in the Rockbrook area, where she’ll have no stairs, a beautiful garden, more good neighbors and a fenced-in yard and doggy door for her beloved Mimi, a 10-year-old French bulldog.
“She’s slowing down now, too,’’ Green says.
Patrick and Barbara did about $100,000 worth of updates to the Dundee house, which had been transformed from a wood frame to a brick exterior under Suneg. He also added the Italian sunroom, saving the parish money by doing the work himself.
They redid the kitchen, an upstairs bathroom and a courtyard on the east side of the house. Barbara calls it her secret garden. They also replaced the roof and the furnace and added copper plumbing in the basement.
They didn’t touch the beam in the kitchen, with its German writing. "Lord God abide with us," it reads in a line from a Bach cantata.
Green loves to share the home’s historic details and says it will be hard for her and stepson Chris to leave. But she doesn’t expect to shed a tear when she hands over the house to its new owners, who bought it for $375,000 before it officially went on the market. There’s too much to look forward to in the new house.
She’s now in the midst of the exhausting work of deciding what to let go and what to bring along.
The Greens, both longtime Creighton law professors, filled the house with books. Even on the 16 cruises she and Patrick took during their 28-year marriage, or on visits to their Mexico time share, they carried along duffel bags full of them. They still managed to squeeze in some sightseeing, Green says.
It’s much easier to have a Kindle, Green says. She loves sitting in the reading room off her second-floor bedroom, taking in her favorite Norwegian crime novels while gazing out the window at the bustling business district.
Two bookcases crammed with books will go to the new house, with the rest — in random stacks throughout the house — to be sold or given away.
The Stickley furniture in the living room won’t go to the new house either. It’s the same brand as furniture seen in an original photo of the house.
The new residence, Green says, will give her a chance to rest and retire.
Asked what she’ll remember most about living in such an iconic Dundee home, it’s not the historical items that Green mentions.
“It’s the many happy years I spent here with my husband. Home is family.’’