Jim Reynolds grew up in the Portland area of Louisville. He was aware of the historical neighborhood surrounding Central Park, but during his college years he grew to love it more each time he visited a friend renting an apartment on Third Street. Jim really wanted to live in Old Louisville but was intimidated by the daunting renovations that would have been required for most of the houses in the area at that time.
Together since 2001, Jim and Diane lived in a fixer-upper off Eastern Parkway. To save money, Jim learned how to hang drywall as well as do some plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. Eventually that home no longer needed any improvements, and Jim realized, as a result of his efforts, he could manage any type of household project or renovation.
Wanting an “our home” and to realize the dream of owning a house in Old Louisville, the couple began seriously searching for a home in the neighborhood in 2008. They first looked at a duplex on St. Catherine that would have only cost $7,500 but had a burnt-out third floor and other serious flaws. Even with Jim’s proven renovation skills, Diane said to him, “You can buy it, but I am not going to live there.”
Interestingly enough, Jim and Diane found 531 Hill Street online in 2008 in foreclosure after having been vacant for about a year. Built around 1900, it was uninhabitable, with many things stolen, mold on the ceilings and worse. The home’s close proximity to Belgravia Court satisfied their desire to feel like a part of a community and helped Jim and Diane look past those things. They visited the house only twice and ended up purchasing and closing on it in less than thirty days!
Despite all the negatives, the Reynolds realized that the house contained many positives: original iron fireplace inserts and six wooden mantles, moldings, doors, stairwell, inlaid floors (damaged but reparable), as well as foyer and living room chandeliers.
So in 2008, the same year Jim retired from GE, they purchased this 2,200 square foot home and set about making it their forever home. The Reynolds’s hired professionals to complete such tasks as brick masonry, tuck pointing, leaky roof replacement and other large projects. They were lucky that most of the window glass was original and intact, but they’ve repaired wood surrounds and added storm windows. They also stripped the woodwork and refinished the beautiful inlaid hardwood floors on the first floor.
The second floor enclosure directly above the back patio was originally used as a sleeping room during hot summer nights. Its six windows could be raised to let in night breezes long before air conditioning. Supported by rotted columns, the room was damaged beyond repair, and the couple had it torn down in 2008. Windows were salvaged and repaired, the leaky roof fixed, walls and flooring rebuilt, and in about six months it came to life as a laundry room and full bath.
After three and a half years of hard work and patience, the Reynolds’s were finally able to move into their beautifully transformed home in 2011. They’ve appointed the house with an amazing array of antique furniture purchased at auctions and estate sales. During the 2016 Holiday Home tour, you’ll see an original Victrola, a 1930s radio, and a hand-painted lamp that Diane gave to her mother on Mother’s Day when she was fifteen years old, among other collectibles and antiques.