Someday, Sandra Murray jokes, she’d like her home to be known as the Murray residence.
It will take just 37 years of living at the Nye Avenue address in Fremont to surpass the 36-year ownership of Dr. Duane and Helen Krause, for whom the house is now called.
“I’ll be in my 90s,” Sandra says with a laugh. “It’s whoever lives here the longest.”
She wasn’t planning to leave her rural Saunders County home, where she and husband Bert lived for 19 years. But they couldn’t resist the 1928 English Tudor with its original woodwork and leaded glass windows.
The 3,700-square-foot beauty is one of several stately homes on large, well-manicured lots near the downtown business district. John Monnich, who owned a Ford sales and service garage — one of the first in Nebraska — was the original owner. Miller & Craig of Lincoln were the architects.
“We’ve always loved antiques. We feel like we’re living in an antique,” Sandra says. “We love the history of the house and the people who lived here and the history of the community and being part of that.”
The Murrays are Fremont business operators themselves. Sandra owns Fia + Belle, a home accessories and clothing store in the landmark Schweser’s building. Bert heads Southmost Drywall Inc.
In the three years that they’ve owned the house, they’ve fixed plumbing and electrical issues, repaired ceilings and walls and upgraded the air conditioning and heating systems.
The bats — and the buzzards that once lined the peak of the house — have been evicted as well.
Bert acted as contractor, and they did some of the work themselves.
“We went room by room to update it,” Sandra says.
The kitchen was one of their biggest projects. Bert says the style didn’t really fit with an English Tudor house. “It was really nice for the 1980s.”
They took it back to its roots with custom cabinets to match those in the library. But it has all the modern conveniences.
The tiny powder room in the hallway next to the kitchen, with its equally tiny door, remains.
“You don’t tear stuff like that apart,” Bert says.
Upstairs, a sitting room off the master bedroom was transformed into a luxurious bathroom with a claw-foot tub and an old-fashioned firewood stove.
Two small bathrooms off that room are now one, with a large walk-in shower. That was a difficult decision, they say, because the area no longer matches the original floor plan.
Another bedroom became a laundry room and the maid’s quarters, a playroom for their eight grandchildren.
“They are in the house all the time,” Sandra says.
A wine cellar is in the works in the warren of rooms in the basement. Bert says it’s been a fun project.
“I’ve turned into a wine guy,” he says. “I never was before.”
In their quest to make the house look as authentic to its era as possible, Sandra has decorated with period pieces in some rooms.
The chairs in the dining room are from the Dodge County Historical Society. The dining table once sat in the library at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
There have been fun and unexpected finds, too.
A large stained-glass piece that sits in the living room, with all the leaded glass intact, was discovered in a barn while Bert was out looking at a truck.
The couple say they’re happy with the finished product. A tight group of new friends on the block is a lovely bonus.
While Bert says he doesn’t know if they’ll live here forever, Sandra says yes.
“I love this house,” she says, “and being in town.”