Homeowner in a 1900s dress left in the home by an ancestor.

Driving West on Route 7 you will see a cornucopia of Monongalia County homes of the rural variety. Small farm houses with large barns adjacent, humble Cape Cod style homes, double wide trailers on acres of land, four-squares with chicken coups nestled under a nearby tree, many with backhoes, tractors, or excavators parked in the driveway.

Just beyond a gentle turn following the bridge to Mason Dixon park, you come upon a Federal style diamond in the so-called rough. Little did I know that this gem belonged to my beloved hairstylist, and owner of Morgantown’s Bella Hair Salon, Rachel Cline.

Some years ago, when Rachel was “working her magic” (aka: making me blond) at her salon, she began telling me about having inherited a property that once belonged to her Grandmother, Ona Maude Lemley. Rachel described how the house and the 20 acres on which it sat, had been in her family for generations, and that it had been, for thirty-plus years, left untouched and packed full of old family junk.

When she told me where it was, I had a eureka moment; “do you mean that old, abandoned, boarded-up house there on the right belongs to you??? And you are restoring it???” I hugged her in admiration. I had driven by the place for years and always wondered what its’ story was.

Built in the nearby valley in 1834, the house was flooded in the 1850’s, disassembled brick by brick (bricks that had been made on site) and re-assembled some 1500 feet away on higher ground, where it stands today. It had been called the “Halfway House,” as it was exactly half way between Morgantown and Wadestown West Virginia.

Entry Hall

Armed with her Pintrest vision boards and an endless supply of elbow grease, Rachel began cleaning out the house that was, as of 2012, crumbling. She had a very specific mission; to clean out the entire house, renovate it to its’ original glory, and make it a home for her small family, husband Reuel, and their six-year-old son, Teddy.

Her relatives balked, questioned her sanity, and thought the dream nearly impossible. Well, leave it to the dreamers! Stealing time between work and family, Rachel proceeded to have all the junk hauled away, save for a few choice pieces to upcycle. Seeing her dedication, her reluctant husband jumped on board, and thus began a four-year project of rewiring, replumbing, reroofing, trimming, painting, landscaping, adding details and subtracting others.

First things first; the drop ceilings had to go. Rachel and Reuel tore out the ceilings and kept the 13 feet-high ceilings in the entry hall that they had uncovered. There are two bedrooms off the hallway, the Master to the right, and Teddy’s room on the left.

In the Master bedroom there is a fireplace and mantle, a large mirrored closet from IKEA, and king-sized bed that is backed by a dramatic Hollywood Regency style headboard Rachel found at the annual South Park sale in Morgantown. Made of tufted red velvet with gold trim, she used off-white chalk paint to completely cover the headboard and soften its’ look, which perfectly complements the sparkly, warm feel of the room. Walls are painted with Sherwin William’s China Doll.

Once you walk through the elegant entry hall, complete with some stately deer taxidermy and painted in Sherwin William’s Navy, the ceiling then drops to 8 feet high in the living room. Rachel and Reuel added rosette crown molding all around the room, and it looks completely original alongside the coffered ceiling.  Mirrors on opposing wall enlarge the comfortable room, which contains a leather couch, large chair, animal print pillows, tropical plants, a beautiful red Persian rug inherited from her Grandmother, and numerous framed family photos. Walls are painted in Sherwin William’s Ancient Stone.

Summer Garden on the Property

They enclosed the two porches that flank the room on either side; one to make a small kitchen which they are now poised to expand, and the other to make a cozy sun room. The plaster that covered the wall in the sunroom was demolished with a crowbar by Rachel herself, and the brick wall (with the handmade bricks) in the sunroom is now exposed.

Outside, Rachel and Reuel created a path to the side door with large pieces of Flagstone found on the property, and built a pergola to cover the dining area in the backyard. Dental molding was attached to the front of the house, just below the roof and a small staircase was added right off the front door.

The renovation was a labor of love for the couple, who admit that there is still more to be done, even though the space has been transformed over the past four years into a very chic and inviting nest. Rachel smiles when she talks about all the mess that had to be waded through, the patience and the hard work, that have gone into creating the beautiful “home sweet home” they share.

“If I had known how much energy and time it was going to take, all told, I’m not sure I would have even started this project to begin with!” she said. “But we were honored to be able to bring a piece of history back to life. Not just for us, but for the community as well.” Reuel adds with a chuckle, “it’s been fun.”


Photo Gallery of the Home









‘Adrian’s Architectural Digest of Monongalia County’ is an occasional series on the remarkable architecture in-and-around Mon County.  Adrian Kiger Olmstead is a Morgantown Realtor and a docent at Frank Lloyd Wright’s house on Kentuck Knob in Chalk Hill, PA.

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