When Pamela Tanner entered the front door of the house on Rushing Road, she knew she was home.
Not in the the way many people who buy new homes do, visualizing wall colors and furniture placement and where they fit into their new surroundings.
Tanner saw the wallpaper her mother hung and cabinet fixtures she installed more than 20 years ago. The wood paneling in the den she’d always hated. The decoupaged light switch she made for her mom.
Even the ceiling fan Tanner hung herself was still in her old bedroom.
The bathroom that had been remodeled just for her in 1993, after a stray bullet left her paralyzed from the waist down.
“When we walked in, it was like a flashback,” Tanner said. “My mom passed away unexpectedly almost two years ago. It was weird to come in and see things my mom had done.”
Her parents bought the home in 1989, when Tanner was 11 years old. They divorced in 1995, and her mother sold the place when she remarried in 2001.
The couple who purchased the house lived there until this year and had only changed the paint colors in the three bedrooms.
The house went into foreclosure early this year. Tanner, who has frequently driven past the house in recent years, quickly noticed it was empty. She started the process of buying it eight days after it went on the market, and closed on July 20.
“It was like a 20-year-time warp,” Tanner said of the home’s interior the first time she toured it.
This house has more than sentimental meaning.
It had been remodeled specifically for her.
In 1993, when she was 16, Tanner was hanging out with some friends at the Masters City ball field on Phinizy Road.
There was going to be a fight, and she and her friends had gone to watch.
Then someone shot a gun into the crowd. A bullet went into her chest, ricocheted off of her ribs and lodged in her spine, paralyzing her.
While she healed and relearned how to take care of herself at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital, the Builders Association of Metro Augusta donated time and materials to turn a small bedroom into a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, install double doors in Tanner’s room, widen all of the doorways in the home and install concrete ramps at the entrances.
Part of the draw of this house for Tanner was that the work had already been done.
“Any house you buy, to make that house (wheelchair) accessible is about $30,000,” she said.
And that is in addition to the home’s purchase price.
“When this house came available again, 90 percent of it was done,” she said.
The only thing that had not been done was the counters had not been lowered, because at 16 she wasn’t cooking, she said.
The sink is being lowered now to be more accessible for her.
Tanner and her husband, Jamie Tanner, are in the process of making the house their own. The wallpaper has come down, the paneling has been painted over, and minor repairs have been made.
The carpet has been taken up and the Tanners will install hardwood flooring.
There have been some happy surprises, too.
When she was a teenager, Tanner’s home was the neighborhood hangout. Teenagers were always stopping by after school, she said.
“If you were anybody, you hung out here,” she said.
She and her friends spent a lot of time in the smallest bedroom, which had been converted into a small den for Tanner, her sister and their friends. On a whim, she and her friends wrote their names all over the walls before it was wallpapered over.
Then, because the hall bathroom was too small to be any use, the room was remodeled into a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.
Last week, the Tanners pulled off the wallpaper and found that the names were still there.
She’s not sure what she will do with those walls yet, but said at the very least she will take pictures of the signatures and make a collage.
Many of the people who spent time hanging out with Tanner in the house, such as Jeremy Mitchum, who owns Mitchum’s Maintenance and Remodeling, are now donating time and materials to help her restore the place.
Tanner said she hopes to move in by Aug. 24 and plans to throw a party to invite many of her friends to hang out with her in the house again.
“One thing that I think is the most exciting, this is the house where I got ready for my two proms, and my graduation, and my wedding,” she said. “Now my daughter is going to get ready for her prom in that house. And her wedding.”
“It’s just been a weird cycle. Sometimes, you do get to go home again.”