Forty years ago, collectors of early Americana set about creating a house worthy of the furnishings.

By Tim Tanner

Both Rich and Jean grew up not far from here, and met in high school. Jean had been a fortunate witness to something relatively unusual at the time. Her father had a twin brother who purchased, moved, and restored an old Cape Cod-style home. Although “fixing-up” was not uncommon, most remodeling jobs in the 1950s were more concerned with “modernizing” old houses. Yet Jean’s uncle and his wife opted to restore houses with a keen eye to history. They had always been collectors, and her uncle had restored many antiques, so they wanted a home that would “match” their collections. Jean has many very fond recollections of her uncle and aunt’s home, and how quaint and cozy and comfortable it felt.

After they were married, Rich was a quick study, gaining an astute understanding of colonial houses and antiques. The couple made their home near Peoria and began teaching careers, soon raising two sons. Their first tastes in furnishings included a few antiques elevating the “early American”-style reproductions. Through her friendship with a collector who owned a restored farmhouse, Jean realized she wanted to trade up to better antiques, as well as finer reproductions. Read more.

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