by Claire Oxford
Married couple Andrew Grace ’01 and Tory Weber’s ’02 East Brooklyn Street home’s foundation is Rosse Hall, literally.
When a previous owner added an addition to the house in 1950, Rosse Hall was undergoing reconstruction, as well. The owner was able to obtain some of the left over stones to use in the foundation of his addition, according to Grace.
The two Kenyon graduates appreciate this local flavor of their recently acquired home in part because of their own shared history in this corner of Knox County. “We both went to school here, and we met here,” Grace said. “We’ve been together ever since my junior year [at Kenyon]. You wonder how often did we go by this house when we were 20 and 19, and, you know, never looked twice at it. And now we own it.”
Despite having moved away from the Hill, Weber’s job offer from the Kenyon Review drew them back to Gambier. “I was getting my PhD,” Grace said, “so we moved in the middle of that because we couldn’t say no to this.”
The couple began their transition back into Gambier life by renting a house on Kokosing Drive. Soon, however, they began wanting to settle into a home of their own.
Even the process of purchasing their home on East Brooklyn Street was an authentically Gambier experience. “It was owner-to-owner, which is [like] a lot of real estate in Gambier — there’s no real estate agents, it’s just person-to-person,” Grace said. “It was the first time selling for the [former owners], and our first time buying … so it was just like this comedy of, ‘Well, what do we do now?’”
Since that transaction, Grace and Weber say they have been happy with their home and the surrounding area for many reasons. “It’s funny having gone here to raise kids here, because I enjoy it now for a completely different set of reasons: it’s perfectly safe, the school is great, it’s a tight-knit community,” Grace said. Their daughters Lily, six, and Claire, two, enjoy additional attention from the greater Kenyon community. “[Lily] gets doted on by college students,” Grace said. “I think she’s particularly cute, but also they’re just hungry for other-age people so they just eat up other kids.”
The house itself was built in the early 1900s, with a later addition constructed in the 1950s. Architectural trademarks of this era, such as detailed trimming framing the doors and windows, were a perk for the owners. “I grew up in this old farmhouse in Illinois that was from around the same period, with the exact same trim around everything that I had as a kid, so I immediately connected with that,” Grace said.
Not only does this home exude the character and charm of an historic building, but it also includes modern renovations that have made the transition easier, compounded with about three-quarters of an acre of playspace and greenery for the whole family to enjoy. Lily and Claire enjoy the creek that runs through the expansive backyard, bounding over the bridge that goes over it to get to their private corner of the yard. “It’s nice that they can have their play area but from the kitchen windows we can’t see this at all,” Grace said. “So you’re not looking out on plastic kids’ stuff. It’s all green.” The family enjoys their screened-in porch and outdoor deck in warmer weather.
Certain spaces are more frequented than others, with the kitchen and living room across from the front room being unifying spaces for the family. “The kitchen is pretty great… I have to say. It’s a good hangout spot for the whole family. We can be cooking, the kids can be playing, we can all be hanging out. So it’s pretty cozy,” Weber said. “There’s a nice island in the middle of it, with a pot rack hanging from the ceiling above that,” Grace said. “We’re a family where dinner … is the one time we know we’ll be at the same place at the same time.”
Grace reflected on how this historic, local home has proven to be a wonderful fit for him and his family. “I am not handy at all, so we kind of needed a house that was ready to roll,” he said. “It’s old, the bones of it are old, but all the updates make it a lot more modern, which is nice for us. Looking ahead to his family’s future in Gambier, Grace concluded, “I think we’ll need a bigger swing set pretty soon.”