Inside the House of (Tom) Love

Hard worker makes cozy nest for himself and cat by restoring century home across the street from his parents

Now 23 years old, Tom Love got the idea three years ago to buy the home and acreage across from his parents after it came up for sale. After a year of hard work, with help from his parents and grandparents, he’s living a comfortable life with his cat Tye in the century home at the intersection of Highway 81 and Crediton Line.
“There’s no house around here like this one,” says Tom’s dad John Love. “We knew Ila, who lived here before, and she had Alzheimer’s, so her son was taking care of the place,” Tom’s dad John Love says. “We said to him that if he ever wanted to sell it, we’d be interested. In 2006, he came along and said he was ready to sell.
“It was a lot of work,” John adds. “We pretty much ripped it down to the 2×4 studs and started over. We put spray-foam insulation in the outside walls and went from there.”
The restoration took a year and a lot of savings. “I’ve been pretty good with my money,” notes Tom, who has been working since he was six. “I was nine years old when I bought my first lawnmower. I sold pumpkins, cut grass, washed windows at the drive-in, worked at POG, Sobey’s and Best’s. Now, my dad and I do grass-cutting, leaf cleanup, painting. If I saved up enough, I could buy good things to make more money.”
With a little bit of help from mom and dad, and a mortgage, the result is a spectacularly restored turn-of-the-century beauty.

As told to Casey Lessard
Photos by Casey Lessard

This was once a village named Harpley. There used to be a post office on the northeast corner that was owned by my great-great-grandpa. There was a hotel across from the post office, and a shingle mill on this farm originally. David Hollenback started building the house in 1877, and when the supply of cedar shakes ran out, that’s when he decided to move. James B. Hodgins bought it in 1877, and it was in his family (Hodgins had three granddaughters, Nola, Beulah and the youngest Ila, who last owned the house) until I bought it.
The house came up for sale in April 2006. It was a pretty good deal because we didn’t have to go through the real estate broker. It’s a good place to live and it’s right across from my parents’. I wanted it to be a nice place, a place that was good to live in.
The house needed a lot of work. It needed all new electrical and insulation, and we had to put a new furnace in. The whole house had electric baseboard heating, so we tore that all out and have a gas furnace outside that also has air conditioning in it.
We finished the floors and put new drywall in and painted it. We tore out the laundry room beside the kitchen. It was rough; the floor had tile on it and we needed an electric cleaner to get the glue off.
We had to refinish the staircase spindles in place because if we took them apart, we figured we might not be able to get them back together again. My mom did it. There was a lot of wax on them and it was difficult for her to get it off. They are a mix of walnut and pine. I think the pine spindles were put in because the people who lived here wanted to stop the kids from getting stuck between them.

I figured since it was an old house, we should go with the antique theme. The trim we got made in Exeter to make it look like antique trim. We got an antique stained-glass window from an old hotel in St. Joseph, and made a matching one at Sunrise Windows in London.
I have one grandfather clock in the living room that my grandpa made when I first moved in, and I have a wall clock for my bedroom that he made 10 years ago.
The Hodgins family came to my open house last year, and they were very interested to see the place. We planted three trees to remember the girls who lived here: Ila, Nola, and Beulah.

It’s nice, and it’s convenient because my mother can do my laundry.
John: Notice he doesn’t have a laundry room?
It’s nice and relaxing. No one bugs me when I’m trying to watch TV. Eventually I hope to get a plasma TV to put on the wall, and I hope to build a new deck. The current one’s in rough shape.
In my spare time, I enjoy cutting the grass, and going outside at night in the summer time. But I don’t have a lot of spare time.
Nobody else has anything like it. Everything’s new these days. Figured I’d have something different.