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Stone sweat
Owner puts "heart and soul" into home

By Gary Wickert

 

It seems that nobody ever really completely possesses a Cedarburg stone house. Each resident adds his own history to the building, each family leaves its imprint, but Cedarburg stone homes survive their owners. These houses become celebrities in their own right. David Welky’s home has been no exception.

Sold to him in 1996, Welky spotted the house ten years ago while walking through Cedarburg with his brother–it wasn’t for sale at the time. He waited. It finally went on the market by the owner, but was priced too high for Welky. It was in need of repairs, and when it didn’t sell over the coming months, the price dropped and Welky bought it. Living alone in the home on Tyler Street, near Cedar Creek and only a stone’s throw from the modern-day location of the Cedarburg Fire Department, Welky has done more to change the complexion of the house than all of its previous owners combined.

Welky has worked on the house for two and a half years, including one year when he took off completely from his automotive after-market Internet company and devoted all of his time to renovating the historic stone home. He completely redid the floor plan of the house by moving the cellar stairway from the kitchen to a small closet in the center of the home. The house had only half a cellar, with the other half remaining a small crawl space.

“For one and a half years, I removed chest-deep rock and clay from the crawl space by hand,” Welky says. “One day I would move the debris into the cellar half of the house, and the next day I would empty it onto the driveway for removal.” He removed a total of 52 yards of clay, rock and dirt, and with the movement of the cellar stairs, gave the house a larger kitchen, created a full basement, and make heating the house easier with the warm air flow under the living room.

After creating the full basement, Welky installed cherry cabinets made by Schuette Woodcraft in Cedarburg, granite countertops and marble flooring and an oven and range with a copper hood. He also built an arched cherry doorway going into the garage, a nine-foot column in one corner of the kitchen, an archway between the kitchen and dining room and coffered ceilings in the living room, dining room, and den. Welky installed French doors between the den and dining room, and added alabaster stone sconces from Spain and an alabaster chandelier. He refinished the staircase, which had dozens of layers of paint, reflecting the history of the house. He has done everything himself, with a little help from his father. But he is not done.

Welky is currently in the process of remodeling the first bedroom upstairs, redoing the wood plank floor and painting a nine-foot diameter compass on it. Next year he has plans to build a two-story addition with a fireplace and large master bedroom upstairs, and a large den downstairs. Just as the original house was built in 1867, the new walls will be 20 inches of hand-laid stone.

Cedarburg's David Welky has "done more to change the complexion of the (Tyler St.) house than all of its previous owners combined".  Two and a half years of hard and sometimes dirty work has helped transform his stone home into a landmark.


With all of the sweat equity invested and the imposing history the house has to tell, it has become a part of Welky. “I will never sell this house,” he says. “I can’t see putting your heart and soul into something just to sell it.” And considering ażl of the previous owners who have died in the house, the issue of ghosts had to come up. “I don’t believe in ghosts,” he says. “I do occasionally hear somebody going up and down the stairs-but fortunately it’s only in the middle of the day and not at night.”

The house is famous now, a centerpiece of last year’s 30th annual Cedarburg Stone and Century House Tour. It was also recently featured on an HGTV cable television special titled, “If Walls Could Talk,” which will air again on Aug. 28 at 9 p.m. Central time, and again at midnight.