1 of 18
Johnny Duggan, BLake Uhing and Rob Maxwell when they bought the house.
They redid the house from top to bottom.
The three students saw great opportunity in this Bemis park home.
What the front entrance once looked like.
The bones of the house were in great shape, they said.
They renovated just about every surface.
The windows couldn't be replaced with a vinyl version.
The stairway to the second floor.
The house has a fireplace on the first and second floor.
The renovation took eight months.
They had to rewire the entire house.
All the bathrooms were redone.
The master bedroom is no longer pink.
It took about $200,000 to restore the home.
The animal wallpaper is gone.
There's no more blue tile, either.
The Creighton students pitched their renovation plan to investors and raised the capital they needed.
Re-doing a house from top to bottom was a learning experience that three Creighton University students pursued outside the classroom.
There were tests along the way, like when they bought vinyl windows for the entire house, and then learned they couldn’t be used in a renovation in the landmarked Bemis Park neighborhood.
But they had many more successes.
“We just saw a great opportunity,” says Blake Uhing of Blackboard Design Build, a company he formed while a finance major at Creighton.
Uhing, Johnny Duggan and Rob Maxwell did their homework before buying the house in foreclosure for $102,500 in September 2017 as college juniors. They pitched their renovation plan to investors and raised the capital they needed.
“The bones of the house were great. The foundation was in incredible shape, the woodwork was stunning, and original hardware was everywhere.” Uhing says. “When we saw it, we knew it was the right project. You just can’t build houses today like they did 100 years ago. We could do the extensive restoration ... and still have room for profit.”
The house took about $200,000 to restore. It sold for $360,000 after eight months of work that included rewiring, replumbing, adding central air and refinishing every surface.
1 of 25
The front porch is a favorite place to view life in the neighborhood for Eryn and Ben Swan.
Eryn and Ben Swan couldn't resist the large sycamores and a welcoming front porch.
Eryn loved the idea of having a fireplace in their dining room.
The living room is off the kitchen now, making it easy to move between the two rooms.
The fixtures are a mix of old and new, just like the house.
Original touches like this window made the home hard to resist.
Eryn likes to cook, so the large island and farm sink are a plus.
Eryn with Bemis, the stray that showed up on their front porch shortly after they moved in.
When you own chickens, fowl accessories follow.
They've loved getting to know their neighbors.
The back entry to the home. Pictured is an article from May 29, 1905.
A powder room off the back entrance.
Ben owns Greenstreet Cycles.
A replacement floor in the foyer was custom-milled.
A fourth bedroom was converted into the master bath.
Pictures from their wedding adorn the master bedroom.
The fireplace isn't in working order. That's on their to-do list.
Although the bathroom is new, it features the same details as the rest of the house.
The staircase sets off a small sitting room on the second floor.
Plants adorn the front porch.
They couldn't believe the tile in the entryway spelled out the address of their home.
Their new chicken coop area.
Uhing says working with the City of Omaha on a landmarked property was the biggest lesson of all. Everything done to the exterior had to be documented and tracked to get the city to OK changes.
“When rebuilding the front porch banisters and steps, we had to draw each detail of the railings, how many spindles each section had, and match each cove and cut exactly.”
When the wood floors in the foyer couldn’t be salvaged, replacement pieces were custom milled. The same with many of the baseboards, crown molding and door casements, especially after turning one bedroom into a master bathroom.
Uhing, who is from Norfolk, Nebraska, came into the project with an interest in real estate and home design, especially historic buildings. This project went so well that he’s now doing it full time at age 23.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “Every old building has a story. I take pride in helping to tell it.”