Surrounded by beautifully renovated and carefully manicured historic homes along West Atchison Street, one hilltop house remained untapped of its true potential. Its former glorious architecture was lost to disrepair and hidden from view among the sea of trees that engulfed the property.
However, less than a year ago, Tyson and Erin Bowyer discovered the nearly 2,700-square-foot brick structure nestled among the trees at 315 W. Atchison St. The couple, who regularly transforms and resells older homes through their 6-year-old business TEB Civil Constructors, purchased the residence, and in less than 10 months have brought the turn of the 20th century era home out of the woods and into the limelight.
"It is a pretty nice neighborhood with lots of beautiful homes along the street," Tyson said. "This was the worst looking house on the street. It was more enticing to make this one look good."
Their hard work earned them the June Golden Hammer Award from the Historic City of Jefferson, which they received Saturday. The organization believes this couple saved a true hidden gem in Jefferson City.
"This stately, hilltop home could have easily been lost due to neglect or demolition. Historic City of Jefferson is very grateful to Tyson Bowyer for taking a chance on this historic home and bringing it back to life," said Laura Ward, committee chairman for the Historic City of Jefferson's Golden Hammer Award. "With all of its amazing original architecture, losing this home would have been a great loss to the city's historic south side neighborhood."
For Tyson, "old big houses" have always been an interest to him since he was a child. He grew up living in historic homes and his parents also renovating a few older houses.
Having worked previously as a civil engineer, Tyson's current business allows he and his wife to find homes to flip and also delve into property management. In deciding to buy a home to renovate in the downtown Jefferson City area, they realized the two-story brick house on Atchison Street could be a rewarding challenge, purchasing the home last September from James and Tammy Elder.
Even though a few families had lived in the home in more recent years, one family inhabited the Atchison Street residence for more than 60 years after it was built in 1900.
According to historic findings Ward provided, Andrew Martin (A.M.) Burkel, a veteran shoe merchant of Jefferson City, purchased the land on West Atchison Street from his in-laws, John and Wilhelmina (Boettcher) Gipfert, for $200. The home was built circa 1900, according to the assessor's office.
Burkel learned the shoemaker's trade in Germany where he was born, immigrating to the United States and Jefferson City from Bavaria, Germany, at 17 years old in 1884. He first worked on a farm for a few months, and in the fall of 1884, he began work for the Church Shoe Store at 134 E. High St., at which he continued for 18 years.
In 1889, Burkel married Anna (Boettcher) Gipfert, who immigrated to the United States from East Prussia in 1867 and to Jefferson City in 1870. They had three children: Louis, Carl Michael and Elsie, the historic findings revealed.
Louis married Margaret Bassman of a well-known Jefferson City family. They had three children. Carl Michael, a carpenter by trade married Blanche Petry, a Jefferson City girl, and they resided at 314 W. Atchison. They, too, had three children, including Carl Edward who was a music teacher at Jefferson City High School for 40 years. He directed the high school's spring operetta for 38 years and started Capitol Caroling in the Rotunda of the state Capitol. Louis and Margaret's daughter Elsie married James Forster in 1942 and they resided at 315 W. Atchison.
In 1902, Burkel, in partnership with Herman Bosch, opened the Burkel & Bosch Shoe Store for business in the location formerly occupied by the Hanszen store, the historic information stated. Bosch died about 1930 and his interest was taken over by Burkel and his son, L.A. Burkel, who became sole owners. A.M. and Anna managed the store well into their 70s. In 1940, the stores became just Burkel Shoes. Louis became sole proprietor until about 1977. In 1943, Anna passed away at the age of 76. Andrew continued to live at 315 W. Atchison with his daughter, Elsie, and her husband until his passing in 1960.
In March 1962, Elsie and John Forster sold the house to Raymond and Dorothy Luebbert. They lived there until 1967 when they sold the property to Gordon Arthur and Elvina Kilpatrick, who occupied it until it was sold to Thomas and Nancy Gage in 1974. They sold the house to Charles and Margaret Hicks in 1976 and lived there until it was sold to John P. Gordon, a personnel officer for the Department of Social Services, in 1979, who in turn sold it to Roger and Jean Meyer in 1994. Within a year, the Meyers sold it to James Elder who then sold it to the Bowyers last fall.
Working with the seller to clean up the home when purchased, the Bowyers and their crew began sifting through the years of history that enriched and gave life to the structure. A lot of those initial items included antique furniture such as dressers, vanities and a 1900-era Singer sewing machine.
"We had around 50 antiques: wall clocks, mirrors, lamps," Tyson said, noting about half of the pieces were sold to a couple of ladies who refurbished furniture while others were given to family members who assisted with the renovation or repurposed back into the house. "There was an old vanity that we painted and used in the bathroom downstairs."
That half bathroom and a laundry area was added to the spacious first floor of the home, with a more open kitchen renovation joining other changes and updates to the original living, dining and family rooms. The upstairs four bedrooms and bathrooms were updated, as well as many restored and repurposed original features and fixtures in the home.
"The front porch was 4 inches apart from the brick house falling away from the structure," Tyson said. "We kept the old handrail (on the porch) and we used it in the second floor balcony. The column caps on the old front porch were used on the retaining wall."
Subcontracting out a few things such as plumbing, HVAC and electrical work, Tyson, Erin and their crew did the majority of the interior and exterior renovations.
"There was new windows, new cabinets and flooring, new shutters, new siding, and we refinished many of the old floors and wood upstairs, ripped off the old addition, rebuilt the front porch. It was a massive undertaking," Tyson said.
The renovations also stopped and started again as Tyson recovered from a minor injury and the couple welcomed their sixth child into the family last winter. However, they pushed through, pulling out eight old trees in the front, adding in new landscaping and a retaining wall, and bringing the historic home up to date with current times.
"We didn't want to waste it all and tried to refurbish or reuse a lot of original parts of the house," she said. "We wanted to make it modern but feel like an old house with its high ceilings, crown molding and beautiful architecture."
With the house currently on the market through RE/MAX Jefferson City, the Bowyers are pleased they were able to receive the Golden Hammer Award for their work and hope a new family can form lifelong traditions in this important Capital City home, much like the Burkels.
"It's incredible that this home remained with the original family for over 60 years," Ward said. "The Burkel family greatly contributed to our community, and I'm deeply appreciative that it's been saved for the future."