WL watches remod

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, August 6, 2014
The house on Third and Columbus Street is getting a facelift, which is catching the attention of many West Liberty residents.

"I'm surprised we didn't cause an accident on Saturday," said Lisa Browning, "Everyone was looking at the house and no one knew who had come to the intersection first."

She and her husband Bruce bought and are renovating the property which, for years now, has gone without any significant repairs. However, the work Browning and her team have done so far has drastically changed its appearance.

"We've had people stop and honk and wave, some even told me I should get the betterment award," she added.

The home is centrally located at what may be West Liberty's most heavily used 4-way stop, which intersects near Casey's, the WL Car Wash and Jeff's Market.

A lot of eyes fall on it everyday which, of course, draws a lot of attention. Bruce and Lisa closed on the home towards the end of July. They bought it at the end of June.

The couple have been residents of West Liberty for 18 years, they own properties in and outside of town including Tipton and West Branch. Bruce is also the owner of Browning Construction.

However, Lisa's vision for their latest project is a little different than what they've done before.

"I'd had the idea for a short term rental, I was just looking for the house to do it with. This one came available, and the location looked perfect," she said. "With a short term rental you can rent it for the weekend or a week if you’re scrapbooking, or if you have family in town for a wedding, funeral or reunion."

She cites the lack of lodging in the area as one of the biggest motivations for her new business, which will be called "Lisa's Place."

She hopes to promote it to WL Foods, schools and churches as a place to stay. It'll have several rooms as well as a common area downstairs.

"I know people come into town, we had family here last year when my son graduated and we had to send them to Muscatine to a hotel," said Lisa. "I think it's something the town needs."

So far the crew, which consists of several West Liberty residents and youth, is in tear down mode. Workers and community members have removed trees and bushes as well as mowed the lawn. Like a haircut, the home is much more visible.

Now the team is busy tearing down walls and other unneeded stuff on the inside. Lisa states that they've hauled away nearly three dumpsters worth of debris and garbage since the start of last week.

They'll either paint or put new siding on the building, as well as install a new porch and do some landscaping. They also have to address frozen pipes and flooding from winter, since the property was foreclosed on by the city.

"The biggest treasure we found was a beautiful railing that was hidden in the walls," Lisa said. "The stairway had been covered up and walled off with a door at the bottom."

The home is a traditional Iowa build, with wood floors, a large attic and a cement basement. Around three stories tall, most of the bedrooms are upstairs while larger living quarters are below.

It's also well located for what Browning has in store. With a gas station, grocery store, the Henderson-Barker Funeral Home and all the rest of the Third Street nearby, anyone who lodges there will have access to a lot of West Liberty.

"I had wanted a house on Calhoun Street for the same idea, but it sold," said Lisa. "I thought that other one was perfect, but this one’s even better."

She plans to hold a community open house when they have it all finished, which should be in about two months. She already has some reservations for the annual Children's Fair in September.
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