Roanoke home has made area couple into historic caretakers

When Ron and Marcia Rivers moved into their home near downtown Roanoke in 2005, they not only became the owners of a house - they became the latest in a line of caretakers of a piece of history.

And each of those caretakers over the past 115 years has made sure to pass down two keepsakes with the house - a picture of the house just after it was built in 1894, and a photograph of a little girl who was one of the home's original occupants.

Those photos are on display in the foyer of the Rivers home, where visitors during the Tri Kappa Housewalk on Oct. 4 can get a sense of the residence's past.

The home, at about 2,000 square feet, is one of the smaller homes on the housewalk, but the couple has packed it full of antiques and collectibles.

"It's not a ‘wow' house," Ron Rivers says. "It's a homey house."

Comfortable couches, family photos and even the family pets take their places inside the original plaster walls and woodwork. Marcia Rivers has carefully selected paint colors, ranging from sage green to sunset orange, for each room.

The house, now standing proud on its corner, has had its ups and downs over the years. It began a turnaround just before the Riverses bought it, with the previous owners replacing the electrical and plumbing systems. When the Riverses came in, they gutted the kitchen and the bathroom.

The kitchen now features modern granite countertops, although the dumbwaiter is still in place - and is now used as a pantry. The bathtub sits under the eaves next to a window.

A one-car attached garage was just too small and awkwardly placed to house a vehicle, so the couple made it into a deluxe utility/laundry room.

It's not the first time the Riverses have brought an old house back to life. While living in Michigan, they renovated a 131-year-old home. Over the years, they've also lived in two just-built homes.

"We've either had really new or really old," Marcia Rivers says.

This house, even in its less-than-stellar condition, felt like home when they saw it.

"When I walked in here, I saw what it could be," Ron Rivers says.

"It has so much charm," Marcia Rivers adds.

The Tri Kappa Housewalk will be held Sunday, Oct. 4, from noon to 5 p.m. In addition to the Riverses' home at 219 S. Main St., Roanoke, the housewalk will also include the home of Jim and Jeni Scheiber, 3170E-900N, Roanoke; the home of Richard and Becky Hawley, 1111 N. Jefferson St., Huntington; and the home of Don and Jo Patmore, 6636N-300W, Huntington.

Discounted tickets can be purchased in advance from Tri Kappa members, at Dorothy's Hallmark, and at all branches of Bippus State Bank and First Federal Savings Bank. Full-price tickets may be purchased at each home the day of the housewalk.