‘Steeple Manor’ shines

Published 8:14 pm Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stuart and Bonnie Resor didn’t go to the auction that hot August day last year intending to buy the house.

Bonnie and Stuart Resor show off a North Suffolk house they have restored and will sell to new owners soon.

Bonnie and Stuart Resor show off a North Suffolk house they have restored and will sell to new owners soon.

But something about the ramshackle, two-story white house of the fringes of Eclipse, in North Suffolk, cried out to the couple.

The Resors — he’s an architect, she’s an interior designer — ended up buying the weathered, circa-1888 house at 1588 Steeple Drive for $74,000.


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“She was a sleeping beauty,” said Stuart Resor. “We wanted to make her sparkle again.”

Seven months later, the house — now called Steeple Manor — is shining.

The Resors, who moved to Suffolk from California three years ago to be nearer family, have renovated the 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom home. The renovated house is a mix of new and old, according to Stuart Resor.

The original owner, Capt. Lipron “Lip” Johnson and his wife, Mamie, raised seven children in the home, Stuart Resor said. According to Resor, Johnson built boats and ships on the nearby Chuckatuck Creek, near where Johnson and Son Seafood operates today. Descendants of Lip and Mamie Johnson live nearby and have shared family photos, which the Resors have framed to give to whoever buys the house.

“When I work on an old property, I like to visualize and get to know the family who once lived here,” Stuart Resor said. Whenever possible, they retain pieces of the original home’s history. In the Johnson house, exposed bricks and the original wood floors, front door and mantle — complete with seven tiny holes where the children’s Christmas stockings were hung more than a century ago — remain intact.

“It’s had the hand of history on it,” Stuart Resor said. “It’s part of this house, there was no sense in changing it.”

But the inside of the quaint home has been modernized, a process that required the Resors to gut the house down to the studs. As part of the process, seven walls were opened up on the first floor, doubling the size of the kitchen and creating an airy, flowing atmosphere through the rooms, Bonnie Resor said.

The Resors also had new plumbing, electricity, heating and central air installed before replacing the drywall.

The Resors have restored period furniture — some of which was in the original house — that will be sold as part of the home if the new owners want it. For him, the highlight of the entire project was restoring the 1906 Auto Piano, a handcrafted player piano made before Henry Ford’s innovation of the assembly line, said Stuart Resor.

Key by key, string by string, he personally restored the piano to its former glory. He’s found abandoned pianos in all three old houses he has ever bought and renovated — and he’s refurbished each one and left it in the new home when it sold.

“While they are broken and neglected by the time we get to them, a piano … represented the height of technology for the houses of this era,” he said. “If you wanted music, you had to make your own.”

The Resors are asking $289,000 for the 128-year-old house and are now on the lookout for their next renovation project.