How one man saved a bit of history

on a hill in Globe, Arizona


Kathy Noltze


          Possibly older than the State of Arizona, the house that Bob rejuvenated in Globe is on a city lot platted in the Territory of Arizona in 1909. “The exact year of construction is a mystery but the house was definitely in county records by 1915, three years after statehood,” Bob said. “That is before electricity came to this part of the hill.”  The house is a sturdily constructed cedar and stucco Craftsman with a hip roof, plaster walls, hardwood floors, and a wrap-around verandah. Although it was maintained to a high standard for many decades, maintenance waned with the fading fortunes of this mining town in the Pinal Mountains. The house was uninhabited for long periods in the late 20th Century. Some essential repairs were neglected, others were shoddy. “I actually found two leaky pipes connected by a garden hose,” Bob exclaimed.

            “I refurbished this as a second home. Dilapidated as it was, the property has what I was looking for:  location, high ceilings, hardwood floors, and a verandah. Its size and location are perfect.  I need low maintenance—no gardeners or housekeepers for periods when I’m away—but I also need modest contemporary conveniences, such as electricity in every room and indoor plumbing.”

            Bob rebuilt the verandah, repaired plaster-lath walls, refinished oak floors, salvaged a claw-foot bathtub, and rescued many original windows. When he leveled uneven floors, doorways popped back into square, accentuating doors that had been planed to fit lopsided doorways.

            Ninety years ago, wood-fired stoves heated this hillside home. At some point, a gas space-heater was installed. Lighting was also by gas at one point:  each room had a gas line to it. The cooling system was state of the art...for 1915: screened doors and windows were opened to catch cool evening breezes that wafted over the Pinal Mountains.

            Concerned about health risks in the crawl space under the house, Bob wore a twin-cartridge respirator to guard against lead-based paint chips and possible vintage hazards. There, he discovered rot and rusty pipes, but no dead pioneers. He also discovered that the original cedar sub floor was in good condition, as were many of the floor trusses and support beams. In times past, plumbing was added and moved about; when sections of beams were removed to make way for pipes, the beams weren’t replaced or supported. That negligence caused major sagging in the floors. The kitchen floor became a roller-coaster of high and low joists.

          Under the house, Bob replaced all water pipes, all wastewater pipes, and all electric wiring. He removed old gaslight lines and put in new lines for gas appliances. He installed ducting for central heating and air-conditioning. He jacked up girders to level floors and he sistered joists with treated wood to correct slipshod repairs.  “I used numerous hydraulic jacks to shore up sagging foundation posts and repaired the posts with treated wood to thwart termites,” he explained.

           In the attic, Bob replaced original post-and-tube two-wire electric circuits that clearly were introduced to the house before building codes were introduced to the Territory. He put in soffits to ventilate the attic. Between rafters, he rolled out a new-fangled invention: insulation.

           In the house, Bob installed electric outlets, wall switches, and light fixtures, preserving two antique chandeliers from the parlor and dining room.  He rewired these and mounted them on the ceilings of the office and the master bedroom.

          The most decrepit room in the house was the master bathroom. It was modernized in the ’60s by enclosing a claw-foot tub with blue ceramic tile. Mold flourished. Moisture ruined plaster-lath walls. Floorboards rotted under linoleum. After rebuilding the floor and walls, Bob laid marble tile and put in an antique marble vanity and the revamped claw-foot bathtub.

           Bob decided against constructing a state-of-the-art kitchen; instead he remodeled a period kitchen that saves space and maintains the character of the house. An antique gas stove, modern refrigerator, and dishwasher were installed.  

            A big hurdle was to fashion a guest bedroom and bathroom out of 170 square feet of laundry room while retaining space for laundry and a route to the back door. He solved this problem by first putting a stacked washer-dryer in the kitchen. Then he carved a half-bath out of a corner of the former laundry room, created a lobby for the back door, and fitted a bathtub and a closet in the remaining space to make a very functional guest bedroom. The bathroom door is an original refurbished door which Bob mounted in a pocket in the wall.

        Landscaping was a no-brainer, according to Bob. He resuscitated existing vintage plants—tamarisk tree, lilac, pińon trees, pyracantha, oleander—and replanted barren flower beds with seasonal color. Xeriscape was the rule: he augmented mature vegetation with low water-use cacti and put it all on a timed watering system.

        Bob crafted a banister for the wrap-around verandah by hand-tooling raw wood into balusters and railings, painting each piece, and assembling it on the verandah. He did the same to create newel posts for the front entry.

        The single most expensive upgrade was a gas pack air-conditioning/heating unit. Central heating and refrigeration are not common in these historic Globe homes. According to Bob, many of them are cooled with an evaporative “swamp” cooler mounted in a window and they are heated by a single gas floor space-heater.

         Bob is quick to point out that the cost of this remodel project was primarily labor, lots of labor.

         That’s a bargain, he says, to reclaim a piece of history.                         


©2003-2012 by Kathy Noltze

All rights reserved.











Meet the Neighbors

During the course of reconstruction, children often stopped in to pick flowers for their moms; they stayed to play, seemingly unsupervised. One day while working on landscape, Bob pricked his knuckle on a cactus, creating a trickle of blood. A vigilant 4-year-old announced in her best stage voice, "Bob's BLEEDING,"  and all the mothers came running. They later laughed, and one explained that she didn't know whose kid Bob was but if he was bleeding she better investigate.


Custom Search