Sometimes when people buy a historic home, they update it with current paint colors and redo the kitchen and bathrooms with the latest of looks.

That is not the case with Linda Anderson and the 1918 Colonial Revival-style house she bought 26 years ago in Rock Island's Highland Park Historic District and shares now with her husband, Bruce Ohrlund.

Over the years, the couple has stayed true to early 20th-century tastes and looks. Carpeting was removed to expose oak and fir floors, painted woodwork — a preference of the Colonial Revival style — was refreshed, and yards and yards of wallpaper and floral draperies were installed.

The crowning touch to their respect for the past is the retro redo of the kitchen. A previous remodeling job was removed and a carpenter was hired to make cabinets matching the originals that remained in the butler's pantry. They're plain, painted white and have many glass fronts.

While house-hunting, Anderson was attracted to the formality of the house, but also its livability. When she walked through during an open house, she could see herself living there.

"It's not intimidating," she said. "That's the feeling we'd like to give anyway."

She also likes the neighborhood and the fact that the house is part of a historic district  — Highland Park  — the city's first and only locally designated historic district. That means her house is not sitting alone as the only historic house on the block, but rather is part of the larger fabric.

Known as the Ardo Mitchell House because it was built by a man of that name, the exterior is red brick and built in a classical style with strict symmetry along a central axis. The roof has three dormers, and there is a semi-circular front porch with four pillars and a balcony on top.

While the couple has stayed true to the home's classic character, they've also made it their own.

All around, you see the things they love: hundreds of books (including more than 150 cookbooks in the kitchen), stones gathered at various vacation destinations, and Ohrlund's collection of matchbooks and boxes from the days when businesses gave them away as advertising.

Among Anderson's things are colored bottles, plants, embroidery samplers she made herself, family dishes and a large pharmaceuticals collection, a salute to her profession as a pharmacist.

Among the "what's that?" pieces in the living room is a chunk of the Villa de Chantal, a city landmark and architecturally significant convent/school built and operated by an order of religious sisters. After many twists and turns, the building was demolished in 2008.

Anderson was among those supporting its preservation and is an active member of the Rock Island Preservation Society, currently serving as president.

 

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