By MAYA POPE-CHAPPELL
Lost after a house-hunting expedition in the New York suburbs, Maria Gouras and her husband stumbled upon an abandoned and dilapidated stone-walled estate in Yonkers.
"This house had been boarded up and very neglected," said Ms. Gouras. "And bringing it back to life was amazing." Ms. Gouras and her husband, Gunnar, purchased the home in 1997 for $252,500, according to property records.
Ms. Gouras, a martial-arts instructor, said she was reluctant about the purchase of the "mini stone castle sitting on the hill," but her husband talked her into it.
Restoring the 1920s home, which sits on nearly two acres overlooking the Hudson River, was no easy feat. Ms. Gouras joined the Yonkers Historical Society, where she found a local contractor to help with the restoration. After filling countless Dumpsters and spending about $50,000 gutting the place, the only thing left to show of the home were four exterior stone walls and a fireplace.
"I felt the more money we spent, the worse it looked," said Ms. Gouras. "It was terrible."
Prewar details in the renovated home—from the fixtures and trimmings to the home's interior doors, tubs, sinks and a cast-iron radiator—were salvaged from several prewar homes being torn down in the region, mainly in Stamford, Conn. A large solid-oak pocket door, rescued from the basement of a demolished home, inspired the look of the entire kitchen, which is outfitted with black soapstone and mahogany.
After a year and a half, the couple moved in to their fully restored three-story estate with three bedrooms and two full baths. Ms. Gouras filled the home with vintage furniture, including many antique pieces from garage sales and flea markets. Though Ms. Gouras said the restoration was discouraging at times, she compared the process to the excitement felt during the birth of her children.
Her husband, a neurologist, is considering a position in Scandinavia, which prompted the couple to list their roughly 2,800-square-foot home last month with Halstead Property for $1.65 million. They plan to move by next summer.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010