Junction City residents have always been curious about what they call the “Old Holt Place," a mansion set back from the road on Elm Street.
No one had been in it for years and the town was watching it deteriorate before their eyes when Kendall and Jill Wilson purchased the property.
The couple has had the property for over a year and said it has been an adventure through the past, all of which was chronicled through the house’s Facebook page, “A Beautiful Mess in Junction City."
Originally called “Whispering Oaks," named after the oak grove it was built in, the home was built and owned by a lumber mill owner, who used the logs that came through his mill in the early 1900s.
It is a two-floor mansion with eight unique fireplaces that were connected with two chimneys. The house originally boasted a second floor balcony where parties were held.
The house was passed down through the family line, and faced many changes through the years.
The family rented out the second floor during the Great Depression to afford the cost of living. The second story still holds the antique stove once used by the renters.
One of the owners had a pet deer that he kept indoors. He would walk it up the stairs nightly so they could sleep in the same room and Jill Wilson said she has heard rumors that the man would even put the deer in his car to go to town to get lunch.
Pieces of family history filled the home from one corner to the next. The Wilsons have found enough books around the house to fill one of the upstairs bedrooms. Signed photos from movie stars, antique football gear, a silk scarf of a World War I pilot, children's bonnets and even a Red Cross nurse’s uniform were stashed away in every nook and cranny of the place.
Although the couple has not kept every piece found in the house, they have done their best to preserve what they can. A little under half of the furniture in the house were pieces that originally came with the property. After ripping down the wallpaper, a family friend and antique shop owner framed a strip of it so it could be reused to decorate the house.
The original banister for the second floor balcony lines one of the walls.
But at first, the Wilsons went back and forth on whether to buy the property.
Jill Wilson first noticed the place when she was riding around with their daughter.
“I don’t know why but it suddenly clicked and I knew that I had to have it,” she said. "It had been there my whole life but at that moment I had a vision of what I wanted to do with it.”
The couple was unsure of how much work it was going to take. Rumors said that the roof was falling in and the stairs to the second floor would fall in if they attempted to go use them. They were unsure if they would be able to accomplish such a daunting task.
“We would make an offer for the house then pull out at the last minute,” Jill Wilson said. "It wouldn’t take long until we were looking at the place again.”
They finally decided to take the plunge on the property, and were surprised by how well the house had stood up to years of being abandonment. It was structurally sound, excluding the kitchen area, which was added on later and quickly removed by the Wilsons.
They have taken the past year to polish this diamond in the rough back to its former glory and their efforts are evident when looking at the before and after shots of the home.
Now renamed "A Beautiful Mess in Junction City," the Wilsons will be officially opening the property as a venue for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, retirements and other events in early October.
To book the property for an event, reach out to the Wilsons through their Facebook page, "A Beautiful Mess in Junction City,” or at 870-314-4377.
Haley Smith can be contacted at 870-862-6611 or at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at @hsmithEDNT.