SOMETMES YOU HAVE TO KISS A FROG (HOUSE)
Published 2:11 am Thursday, July 21, 2016
Decades-old home to be moved to Gantt
It has stood on East Three Notch Street since the 1920s, where it is known to old-timers as the Jordan place, and more recently, to Episcopalians as the Frog House. Soon, it will be partially deconstructed and moved miles away, where it will be restored as the Dantz House, overlooking Gantt Lake.
Katherine Dantz cannot wait to get started.
“Six weeks ago, I found out that the house was about to be bulldozed,” Dantz said. “The minute I walked in, I knew.”
She fell in love with the tall windows, the high ceilings and the central hallway. From the back door, one can see out the front, and vice versa.
She and her husband, Tim, have experience finding good bones in an old house, seeing potential, and bringing houses back. In Evergreen, they revitalized Dantz’s great-great-grandfather’s house, which they still own. Four years ago, with their daughter deeply involved in the Andalusia Ballet, she contacted Nancy Dove, whom she had known in Evergreen, and asked about a place to rent in the Straughn school district. Dove told her about property at the lake, and took her to see a cottage-type property.
But it was the view that sold her. The family of three has been living in the cottage since then, but recently had the cottage moved to the front part of the property. The plan was to make the cottage guest quarters, but continue to live there while they built a house.
“We were on the third or fourth iteration of house plans when I heard about this house,” Dantz said.
When the couple first saw the Frog House, much of it was being used by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church for storage. The church had decided that the space didn’t really work for them, the Rev. Cindy Howard said.
When the house was cleaned out, Dantz said, she immediately removed all of the window coverings.
“I am extremely photosensitive, and wanted to feel the light,” she said.
After three weeks of talking with attorneys, contractors and house movers, the Dantzes agreed to purchase the home for the whopping $10.
“It was a triple win,” Howard said. “Our initial thought was to have it taken down. It was space we don’t want, it was a liability to have on the property in that much need of repair, and this also preserves the building.”
This saved the church money, too, she said.
A portion of the house was built before 1924, Mrs. Dantz said. The remaining parts were added in the late 1920s.
Some time next week, contractor Brownie Woodall will begin removing the top portion of the house, exposing the second floor. Around Aug. 1, the house mover will begin lifting the house and preparing it for the trip to Gantt, where Woodall will put it back together and make some changes for the family.
Dantz said the front porch will be extended, and will overlook the lake. The kitchen will be expanded to the existing back porch to add a breakfast area, and a new entryway will be added.
Downstairs, a tub and shower will be added to the bathroom, and laundry facilities will be determined. The Dantzes’ daughter, Lucy, will have the upstairs to herself.
When the church moved its original building to the current location and expanded it, the Frog House, as it is known, was used for children’s events. Almost every wall is covered with art work sketched by parishioner Margo Russell and painted by a number of local artists. FROG was an acronym for “Faithfully relying on God,” Russell said. There were stations throughout the house for drama, music, cooking, art, and computers.
“If you as a child came every Sunday, for six weeks, then you were awarded Bible bucks,” Russell recalled. “The back room was full of trinkets, and the children could spend their Bible bucks in the store. It was a great concept.”
She sketched frogs in prayer, a Bishop Frog, frogs reading, angel frogs, and every other imaginable pose.
In the hallway, she sketched large pots of flowers. Dantz said she hopes to be able to preserve that art when the house it put back together.
She hopes to move into the house by late fall, she said, and she’s convinced this ‘frog,’ will be a handsome prince of a home.