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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News Tribune Parks and Rec Director Todd Spalding talks about the renovation being done at the former caretakers residence at Ellis Porter Riverside Park.

The groundskeeper house at Ellis-Porter Park is getting a new life.

Crews started renovating the house about two weeks ago with a goal to get the outside done before cold weather hits.

The Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department plans to use the two-story home with an attic and basement for offices, storage and a hub for the Ellis-Porter Park.

Parks Director Todd Spalding said the full renovation will take about six months with crews focused on the inside of the building during winter.

The renovation plans include space for the Master Gardeners, potential offices for parks staff, a ticket office for the Ellis-Porter Amphitheater and event space. There will also be a kitchen for catered events.

The project is expected to cost $606,100; the City Council signed off on the use of the parks funds at the beginning of September.

This renovation is the next step in improving the park. It will include space for the Central Missouri Master Gardeners. Under a new agreement, the club will help parks staff plan, grow and care for botanical gardens.

Spalding said the garden will start around the house and in the backyard of it, but he hopes over time it will spread throughout Ellis-Porter Park.

The house itself is more than 100 years old.

From what he's been told, Spalding said, it was a Sears kit house, popular around WWI.

Historically, each park would have a caretaker who lived in the park and would be responsible for everything from mowing the grass to setting up for events, Spalding said.

While that isn't the structure anymore, he said the staff wanted to continue using the home.

Until recently, the only thing it was used for was Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Spalding said staff is still identifying what will go in each room.

So far, crews have gutted the inside of the house to the studs. They've started running HVAC, updated electricity and added new pipes through the house.

Spalding said one of the next steps after those systems are in place is to spray insulation into the walls before sealing them back up.

They've pulled up the old laminate flooring to reveal the original hardwoods and broken down a wall next to the stairs.

Part of the goal, Spalding said, is to restore at least some of the historic features of the home such as the hardwood flooring.

The project also includes replacing the windows. At some point in the home's history, the windows were narrowed, but Spalding said crews will replace them back to their original size.

The crew is also salvaging what pieces of trim they can to be reused.

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