Ritter Park home filled with history

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sitting on a knoll over looking Ritter Park in Huntington, W.Va., is the home of Grant and       Tracy Shy.

Sitting on a knoll over looking Ritter Park in Huntington, W.Va., is the home of Grant and Tracy Shy.

Sitting on a knoll over looking Ritter Park in Huntington, W.Va., is the home of Grant and Tracy Shy.

Standing on the sidewalk below, looking up at the house, the first thing one may notice is the vibrant red Spanish roof. But climb the many steps that lead to the home’s wide marble wrap-around porch and something else begins to become noticeable.

“There is lots of history here,” Tracy Shy said.

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The home was built in 1928 and just nine years into its existence had to survive the infamous 1937 flood that brought Four Pole Creek to the home’s doorstep. Shy has a picture of the home then, that was taken by a photographer in a boat floating along North Boulevard.

“From my understanding it flooded the entire basement of the house,” she said. “It came just mere inches from coming in the front door.”

The history doesn’t end at the doorstep with the ’37 flood. Open the door to the home and to the right is a sitting room lit by an original jade fixture hanging from the ceiling. Below the light is a coffee table and on it, a Bible from the 1700s.

“My husband got that a long time ago,” Shy said. “The neat thing to me is we found a note left inside it telling someone to take the horse and buggy to pick up the kids from the aqueducts. The note is dated 1877, my husband is a history buff so he really liked finding that.”

Grant’s love for history, especially civil war history, is immediately recognizable as scenes from Gettysburg, Antetium, and other notable battles adorn the walls throughout the home. But Tracy has a love for history as well, one historical figure in particularly.

Adjacent to the sitting room on the left hand side is a dinning room. The Shy’s have dubbed it the “Lincoln Dinning Room” in honor of the 16th president. In the corner of the dinning room sitting on an easel is an original photograph of Lincoln himself and quotes from the late president are written around the room.

“I’ve always had a love and admiration for Lincoln,” Shy said. “Ever since I was a little girl, I did a school project about him and I’ve been fascinated ever since. The dinning room is my favorite room in the house.”

That may change in the future as the Shys, who just moved into the house in 2013, have several restoration projects planned for the home.

“The kitchen is the main thing I want to get done,” she said. “I already have plans drawn up for a new one by an architect and I can’t wait to have the kitchen remodeled.”

Even though there plans for the kitchen and some of the upstairs bedrooms to receive an overhaul, Shy said it was important to her to keep the house’s integrity intact.

“Everything we have planned we want to make sure keeps the spirit of this house,” she said. “It is such a beautiful and historic home that I don’t want to do anything that will take that away. But, it does need some updates and things that need some TLC.”

One of those things is the upstairs bathroom, which is lined with a beautiful Columbia blue tile that is original to the home.

“I honestly really like this tile, I think it’s gorgeous,” Shy said. “But there are cracks all in it because of how old it is. I wish I could save it but it is just going to have to be replaced.”

Another item that needs replaced in the bathroom is a toilet from 1917 that predates the home by more than a decade.

“That is truly an antique toilet,” Shy said. “But it takes about four times the water a modern toilet does so we are going to have to do something with it as well.”

Down the hall from the bathroom the master bedroom is also scheduled for some renovations. Including making alterations to the balcony that juts off the bedroom and gives the Shy’s a breathtaking view of the park.

“We are going to build this balcony up a little bit and raise the floor,” she said. “Right now if I want to sit out here in the evening or something I can’t see over the wall. So we want to fix that.”

Some of the transformations to the home have already taken place, like the one to the smallest bedroom in the house.

“It’s every girl’s dream,” Shy said as she opened the door to the bedroom turned walk-in closet. “My kids are grown. It’s just me and my husband so we didn’t need 5 bedrooms so I decided to turn this one into my closet. It helps keep me organized.”

Back downstairs is a spacious living room complete with a fireplace and the mandatory recliner for the head of the household.

“That’s the chair that Grant sits and reads in,” Shy said. “He’ll turn the TV onto the History Channel and he’ll just sit and read all the time.”

But, the most unique feature in the room is one you don’t notice right off hand.

“You see that?” Shy asked as she points at a light hanging from the center of the ceiling. She then flips a switch on the wall and slowly raising into sight are four curved wooden blades. They spin for a moment and then they suddenly explode, extending out two or three feet as they pick up speed.

“It’s a ceiling fan,” she said. “As far as we can tell from people we’ve had come in and look at it, it’s from the 1930s. You probably won’t see another one like it. Its pretty rare.”

Pretty rare, pretty much sums up the entire house at 240 North Boulevard For years it’s unique look, location and history have made the home a favorite among Huntingtonians.

“When this house hit the market the line of people wanting to buy it was unreal,” Shy said. “Somehow we got lucky to get it. But, this is definitely a special house and one that people love to stop on the street and look at.”