Grant aids final stage of historic home’s restorationOctober 2, 2019
By LEANN BURKE
FERDINAND — When Ann Knebel was in high school at Marian Heights Academy in Ferdinand, she fell in love with the Peter Muller House.
Built between 1865 and 1870 by Peter Muller — the original owner of the town’s mill and reportedly the first in Dubois County to own an automobile — the Georgian, Italianate house located at 314 W. Ninth St. captivated Knebel, and she dreamed of one day owning it. After graduation, life took Knebel away from Ferdinand and the Peter Muller House until a couple of years ago when she was finally able to purchase and begin restoring the house. Now, Knebel and her husband, Edward Kornegay, are in the final stages of restoration, and received an $11,175 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ Historic Renovation Grant Program.
The funds will be put toward repointing and cleaning the brick on the home and the carriage house, and for sealing and repairing the sandstone foundation.
“This is the last step in the process to get the house back to its original state,” Knebel said.
The process began about four years ago when Knebel and Kornegay bought the property. They currently live in Maryland, but plan to move to Ferdinand once they retire in a couple of years. Knebel is a nurse scientist working as a civil servant for the U.S. government.
Knebel’s sister, Joan Knebel, currently lives in an apartment in the house, and the rest houses Traditional Arts Today, a nonprofit that offers classes in traditional arts such as sewing and weaving and gives local artisans a platform to sell their work. Ann is the president of the organization, which opened in 2018.
As soon as they owned the property, Ann and her husband set about restoring it. Although the previous owners had put a lot of work into updating the inside, Ann said the outside needed a lot of attention. The balcony had to be rebuilt, and the wrought iron front entryway needed attention, too. Originally, the house also had shutters Ann wanted to replace. She has been working with Keith Harrod of Ferdinand-based KMH Construction on the restoration, and estimates she’s spent about $100,000 so far. It’s been a worthy investment.
“We really see this property as belonging to the community, and they’re lending it to us,” Ann said. “It’s been a labor of love.”
The work covered by the Historic Restoration Program is underway, and Knebel expects it to be complete this fall.
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