Originally created 01/07/01

Harrisburg home just `needed some love'

When Mona Thompson went looking for a home for herself and her 81-year-old mother, she never thought her house of choice would be 5,000 square feet and include 12 rooms.

"I didn't think I needed all the space," Ms. Thompson said. "But believe me, it is bulging."

Built in 1916, Ms. Thompson's home has Georgia heart pine floors and walls throughout. Even a few of the seven walk-in closets are lined with pine.

The Harrisburg house was built by a man named Hancock, who reportedly owned the entire block. Ms. Thompson said the house stayed in the Hancock family for many years. In fact, during her renovations, Ms. Thompson found old paintings and college diplomas that belonged to various members of the Hancock family.

"I have always wanted to redo an old home," she said. "It felt so warm. It just needed some love and attention."

And while there was plenty of scrubbing, painting and renovating to do, she tried to maintain the integrity of the original design.

"This was always a family home," she said. "I wanted to keep everything the way it was out of respect for them."

The living room has dark pine wood on the walls, floors and beams that cross the 10-foot ceiling. Ms. Thompson covered some of the wood with magnolia-themed wallpaper to lighten the room.

The two-tier pine mantel had layers of white paint that had to be scrubbed off to expose the rich wood grain underneath. Originally, Ms. Thompson wanted to repair the slim coal-burning fireplace in the living room. But an inspection found it unsafe, and she replaced it with a ventless cast-iron heater.

The stove lends itself to the antique motif that Ms. Thompson has used through out her two-story home.

"I started buying old things when I was 17," Ms. Thompson said. "Everything here has a story."

One of her favorite pieces is an old-fashioned ice box with a brass spout and handles. The top raises for a large chunk of ice, and the lower compartment works as a refrigerator. She also has an oil lamp from her childhood. "It was the only lamp we had when we were growing up in Tennessee," she said.

Ms. Thompson lived in Tennessee with her family until she was 9. Since then, she and her family have made Augusta home, specifically the Harrisburg neighborhood between Walton Way and the Augusta Canal.

"Good people come out of Harrisburg," she said.

Many of her pieces of antique furniture came from her father, who died about 20 years ago.

Only a couple of Ms. Thompson's treasures are recent buys.

"I am learning to say no to myself and keep walking," she said, which is a good thing because there isn't much room left to fill. "I've gotten the inside pretty much the way I want it," she said. "Now I'm starting on the outside."

In addition to the two bedrooms and two bathrooms downstairs, the historic home has a third bathroom, a second kitchen and at least two additional rooms upstairs. That's not counting the walk-in closets.

There is even a second-floor porch that overlooks Eve Street. It sits off the upstairs computer room. Ms. Thompson would eventually like to convert that space into a sunporch for all her plants.

The stairwell that leads to the second floor is painted in hues of blue to look like the sky. Ms. Thompson trailed native vines along the sloping ceiling and tucked a few white doves into them. The result is a stairway to what seems to be a treetop view of the clouds.

But the picturesque scene isn't finished, Ms. Thompson said. "There is always something to clean or dust. I see something new to do every day."

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332.

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