Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 46
Alice Gander says the new front porch is her favorite spot in the 1918 colonial-revival style farmhouse she helped renovate.
before and aft
"Mom's big , old house"
Monroe City retiree takes hands-on approach to renovations
by Paul Newton | email@example.com
he space above the porch wasn't very big,
but that wasn't going to stop the 61-year-old
from installing the insulation and running
the wire in the building she loves. "It was
very constrained. I was crawling like a caterpillar,"
she says failing to hold back a grin. "As I was up
there, I just said to myself, 'you must really love this
house to be stuck up here doing this.' "
For four-and-a-half years, Alice Gander has taken on her "retirement project" of restoring a nearly
century-old farmhouse where she grew up in rural
Monroe City. From constructing windows to running wires to reﬁnishing the ﬂoors, Alice had her
hands on the project which is a point of family pride.
The 2,100-square-foot colonial-revival style
farmhouse was built around 1918. The Robert and
Lavinia Corder family lived on the farm for nearly
a decade before building what Alice describes as
"likely their dream home.
"This was a big
farmhouse for that
time period," she
says. "This wasn't a
Sears Roebuck kit
house like they had
at the time. It's a
custom home with
a lot of work done
grandparents lived 5 miles
up the road and
photo courtesy of Alice Gander
house being constructed. Two decades later, the Ganders purchased
the farm and have been there ever since.
"I wasn't born yet, but three of my siblings were,"
she says. "My parents were relatively newlyweds
and it was after World War II. I'm sure they didn't
RURAL MISSOURI | OCTOBER 2017
have enough furniture for the entire
That hard work brought her closer to the
house. They lived here until they
house she already loved. "Just the contact
of going over those ﬂoors and thinking to
The family's sole income came from
myself, 'the last time this was reﬁnished
their land. "We always raised corn or
was 1953. I wonder what Mom was thinkbeans," Alice explains. "Hogs were the
ing when she was doing it,' " she says.
primary source of income for us. We
Later she took classes on making
had dairy cows and later beef. We had
and restoring windows. In her workchickens and Mom had her egg money."
shed behind the house, Alice took on
The Missouri Rural Electric Cooperathe tedious task of making 19 new
tive member describes family details as
storm windows. "I think it might have
she walks around the old family home. "This is
been fun to learn how to do it and make four or ﬁve,
where Mom's chair was," or "Dad had a bathroom 19 was a lot," she quips.
put in here," or "This is where our old stove was."
Other parts of the restoration brought back comiAlice moved away to get a mechanical engineer- cal reminders. An exterior painter found a hole near
ing degree at the University of Texas. She would go where a faucet had been installed and when they
on to have a career with Michelin in South Carolina, looked, there was a .30-06 shell casing in there.
but the building she still considers "Mom's big, old
"Dad always said he was a better farmer and
house" always had a special place in her heart.
hunter than a carpenter," she says. "He had tried
Unfortunately, her husband passed away in to drill a hole to run the faucet and hit the end of
2010, about the same time Alice retired. She knew the joist, so he had to drill a new one. So, naturally,
what to do with her retirement. "All my family is what would he have had on hand to ﬁll a hole that
here. This house is here. I love it here," she says. "It size? That was his farmer mentality."
was time to come home."
Alice ﬁnished up a majority of the renovation
She moved home in 2013 to begin her labor of work earlier this summer, thanks in part to a nearly
love. She did use contractors, but took a hands-on seven-month push from early November 2016 to
approach. "I'm a mechanical engineer and grew up June. She's kept family and friends from around
on a farm. I ﬁgured I can either do it myself or ﬁgure the world updated on the project by posting pictures of everything she does to Facebook.
out how to," she says.
She's enjoyed showing off the "oldest member of
Some projects would require extra training. Alice
enrolled in classes at the Belvedere School for His- the family." With much of the work done, she hosttoric Preservation in Hannibal. First were a trio of ed an open house for friends and in July had nearly
classes on reﬁnishing old ﬂoors. What she learned 50 family members over for a party. Having those
in these classes turned into some of the hardest res- loved ones close and inside the family home is what
toration work. "I reﬁnished all of the ﬂoors by myself, makes Alice appreciate the years of work she and
that means a lot to me. That was the most physically others have put into the house.
"I don't know how to convey how much of a perdemanding thing I did. It involved 5 to 6 hours per
day on your hands and knees for several days at a son this house is to us," she says. "I was fortunate
time. I'm 61 years old. It made me want to ﬁnish this to have the time and resources to do this. But it's
house faster, before I got any older," she says with a about the friendship and the fellowship the house
evokes from people."
laugh. "It's not going to get any easier as I age."
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2017
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 8
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 9
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 10
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 11
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 12
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 13
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 14
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 15
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 16
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 17
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 18
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 19
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 20
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 21
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 22
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 23
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 24
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 25
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 26
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 27
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 28
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 29
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 30
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 31
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 32
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 33
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 34
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 35
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 36
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 37
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 38
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 39
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 40
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 41
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 42
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 43
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 44
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 45
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 46
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover4