Couple transformed gutted historic Haskell Row home into modern farmhouse

photo by: Mike Yoder

The remodeled home of Ashley and Aaron Weigel is pictured at 1320 Haskell Avenue in East Lawrence.

Ashley and Aaron Weigel were living in Olathe when they heard about a gutted property for sale on a two-acre lot in Lawrence.

At first, they imagined the home would be an investment they could turn into a rental property. But once they saw it in person, they knew they wanted to live there — despite the raccoon pellets, animal carcasses and evidence of a squatter. They weren’t intimidated by the work that needed to be done.

The Weigels had previous experience with home renovations in Lawrence, where they lived for many years following their graduations from the University of Kansas. But Aaron’s job had brought the couple to Olathe for a couple years, in a neighborhood they said didn’t feel like home.

“This was the project that tempted us back,” Aaron said of their new property, located on historic Haskell Row at 1320 Haskell Avenue.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Ashley and Aaron Weigel, their 7-year-old son, Archer, and their dog, Alfie, reside their remodeled home at 1320 Haskell Avenue.

Three properties on Haskell Avenue — 1300, 1320 and 1340 — make up “Haskell Row,” a line of homes made by famous Kansas architect John Haskell for his family members. Haskell was one of a handful of professional architects during Kansas’ territorial period, and built local properties such as the Douglas County Courthouse, Plymouth Congregational Church, the Castle Tea Room and KU’s Bailey Hall.

Ashley and Aaron didn’t know much about the home’s historical significance when they purchased it in 2016, but now the knowledge they’ve gleaned from neighbors, books and the Historic Resources Commission adds to their appreciation of the place.

“We want to care for it in a way that’s respectful of that history,” Aaron said. “Some people will walk into a house that’s gutted and say, ‘Well, I’m just going to do exactly what I want, no matter if it’s what the house used to be.’ I think we tried to keep some of what the house has always been — which is kind of a farmhouse.”

The front of the Weigels’ home is encompassed by a large porch that Ashley said helps the home look connected. The home has been expanded twice, once by the Haskells in the early 1900s and a second time when it became Achievement Place for Boys, a home for troubled boys that operated from 1967 to 2007. When the Weigels purchased the home, they decided to expand an existing small porch into a wraparound in order to tie the home together.

“It kind of really brought the house together cohesively where it didn’t look like it was added on to twice,” Ashley said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A new wing on the west side of Aaron and Ashley Weigel’s home, 1320 Haskell Avenue, incorporated a large porch addition.

Ashley and Aaron acted as the general contractors of their home. They wanted to live on-site during the renovation process, so they hired a company to build a two-bedroom, two-bathroom carriage house above their garage, where they lived for two years during the renovation process.

“Given that we wanted to do a lot of the work ourselves we felt that being right next door to it — or as close to being in it as you can be — was the best way to really maximize our own man hours,” Aaron said.

The couple moved into the main home in 2018. Now they rent out the carriage home on Airbnb.

The first floor of the Weigels’ home includes a guest suite, kitchen, living room, dining room and game-room-turned-schoolhouse. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Weigels’ 7-year-old son, Archer, is being homeschooled by Ashley this year. His classroom features a chalkboard originally used in a schoolhouse in Enterprise, Kan. Aaron’s mom gave it to them.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Because of COVID-19, Aaron and Ashley Weigel’s 7-year-old son, Archer, is getting a lot of his school instruction at home. An old framed chalkboard, passed down in the family, is used for daily lessons.

The kitchen is Ashley’s favorite part of the house because “we got to make it our own,” she said. The couple knocked out some walls and expanded the kitchen into a chef’s kitchen with an open floor plan and plenty of room for entertaining. They have a galley sink, two dishwashers, two ovens, a commercial-sized fridge and freezer and a griddle large enough to fit a two-foot pancake.

Between the fridge and the ovens is the home’s original brick exhaust system for the former wood-burning stove. Ashley and Aaron kept as much of the home’s original features as they could.

“With it being gutted when we got it, there was not a lot to choose from to try to make it original,” Ashley said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Archer Weigel, 7, the son of Aaron and Ashley Weigel, plays on his iPad in the kitchen of the family home at 1320 Haskell Avenue. A large center island can seat multiple guests.

On the second floor, the couple expanded the ceiling heights in order to expose original windows from the home that previously only shed light into the attic. The windows’ original purpose was to make outsiders believe the home had three stories, the couple said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Some original exterior windows were maintained and incorporated into the design of a home remodel at 1320 Haskell Avenue, the home of Aaron and Ashley Weigel.

In the couple’s master bathroom, a portion of the original exterior wall is exposed.

“We whitewashed it and called it good,” Aaron said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A portion of an original exterior wall, behind the bathtub, was left exposed during a remodel project at 1320 Haskell Avenue, the home of Aaron and Ashley Weigel.

Archer’s room, also located on the second floor, includes one of the home’s numerous pocket doors. The door in Archer’s room is a barn panel from Ashley’s parents’ house in Colby, Kan. Her parents still have the other half of the barn door.

photo by: Mike Yoder

An old barn door with original paint, which was passed down from a family relative, was incorporated as a sliding door into the home remodel by Aaron and Ashley Weigel at 1320 Haskell Avenue in East Lawrence.

Aaron said his favorite part of the house isn’t actually the house itself, but the trees on the lot. Many are more than 100 years old, and there’s one oak tree Aaron estimates is about four feet wide at the trunk.

“We both grew up with land and having a tiny postage stamp in Olathe was not our happy space. Having a couple acres here to spread out a little bit really makes us happy,” he said. “Being part of something that feels like you’re a part of nature just feels homey and comfortable to me.”

“Makes you feel rooted?” Ashley joked.

“Yes, that’s the pun I was looking for,” Aaron responded.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Colorful walls and doors lead from the room of Archer Weigel, 7, the son of Aaron and Ashley Weigel who live at 1320 Haskell Avenue. The Weigels remodeled the historic East Lawrence home.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A portion of a brick exhaust system was left exposed in the design of the kitchen during a remodel at the home of Aaron and Ashley Weigel, 1320 Haskell Avenue.

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