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Omaha Magazine

Moving Into History: The Evans Find old-world beauty, Holiday Fun in Field Club Fixer

Apr 30, 2021 01:02PM ● By Houston Wiltsey
red brick house with lush green landscaping

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

A petite 113-year-old house doesn’t exactly scream kid-friendly. So, Kristi and Alex Evans decided to pack up their one-and-a-half-story home in Dundee in 2017 to move to a 4,000-square-foot fixer in the historic Field Club neighborhood. 

“We knew we wanted to have more kids, and our old place didn’t have enough room,” Kristi said. “Plus, we had redone everything in that house, so we were getting bored,” she added.

The couple was first made aware of the home by Kristi’s sister, who saw it was for sale.

“We thought that it was so beautiful, but that there’d be a ton of renovations,” Kristi said. “It also didn’t have air conditioning, and we said who would be crazy enough to pay that much for a house without A/C? Apparently, that was us.”

It’s not hard to see why they were so drawn to the house. It was designed by John McDonald, a well-known architect who designed many of Omaha's impressive houses and commercial buildings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the George A. Joslyn Castle and the Joslyn Art Museum. Completed in 1907, the Evans home features a steeply pitched clay-tile roof, carved stone windows, and an
asymmetrical façade.   

  “Like so many homes in Omaha, it’s a real mix of styles and defies easy categorization,” said Mark Hinchman, a professor of architecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “There are elements of Queen Anne, Prairie, and Arts and Crafts styles,” he continued, adding that the porch columns are “pure classical” and that there are both Gothic and Tudor-style windows.

Though the home’s roof exudes old-world charm, it’s a replacement that was completed in the summer of 2019. For the update, the Evans turned to the tile experts at Ludowici. Founded in Italy by Carl Ludowici in the late 1800s—and with roots dating back to 17th century Rome—the company specializes in expertly crafted clay-tile roofs, many of which were used on homes across the Midwest. “There’s even a good chance they were the ones who installed what was on the roof before,” Alex said. To maintain the look and feel, Ludowici’s craftsmen came out to make casts of the original tiles to create molds to fashion the updated tiles. 

Elsewhere on the property, a pair of beautiful examples of metalwork draw the eye.

“The wrought-iron fence out there is something the previous owner got for free,” Kristi said. “Hanscom Park was being remodeled, and their son saw this beautiful fence just sitting there. They were going to throw it out, and he just asked if he could have it.”

On the northwest corner of the property sits a street lamp which Alex outfitted with LED lights that enable the family to change its colors—very important considering how much the couple enjoys decorating for the holidays.

“The previous owners set a precedent of excessive decorating,” Kristi said. “One Halloween, they made it look like a dragon was weaving in and out of the windows of the house.” 

The Evans have made a strong attempt to make those folks proud. A couple Octobers ago, the couple created a Harry Potter scene on their front lawn, complete with a Quiddich field and painted signs of the four houses of the series’ mythical school, Hogwarts. For last year’s neighborhood Independence Day party, they riffed on the quarantine-appropriate “there’s no place like home” line from the Wizard of Oz, adding gold chalk paint to their sidewalk entry and a bubble machine out front. Paired with the Emerald City-like color of their roof, the decorations made quite an impression on neighbors.

The Evans said they plan to decorate and renovate their home more in the years to come. Eventually, they want to get their 1- and 4-year-old sons involved.

“We haven’t been able to put them to work,” Alex said, chuckling. “They make an effort, but they just aren’t too much help at this point. But we’ll get them there one day soon,” he added, looking over at Kristi and smiling.  

This article originally appeared in the May issue of Omaha Home. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

Photo by Bill Sitzmann