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Owners lovingly restore historic Tarpon Springs home


Step onto the veranda of the mint-green, tin-roofed Cracker home that sits on the corner of Orange Street and Grosse Avenue, and into the charms of a bucolic yesteryear.

Stoneware pickling crocks line the outdoor steps.

The wrap-around porch offers the promise of sweet tea on lazy afternoons with its variety of antique metal chairs, perfectly mismatched in a variety of peeling paint colors.

Corinthian Bells, a type of handcrafted wind chimes, resonate with hums in the breeze.

This is the 100-year-old home of Bob and Nancy Subic, who have been restoring it since they bought it eight years ago.

"We loved it from the outside, but when we walked in we knew it was The One," said Nancy Subic, a 52-year-old retired bartender who has a passion for the old, the rusted and the worn.

The couple have poured about $50,000 into renovations.

"We had a lot of fun doing it and now we're going to relax and enjoy it," she said.

Known as the Pinder House, the home was built in 1910, before the advent of air conditioning and deet, by a sponge buyer named Arthur Pinder.

It has been owned by three different families who share a special caretaking bond, passing down old photos and special furniture pieces they feel should stay with the house.

Donna Falconnier Parker, 70, retains fond childhood memories of her grandparents' home and plans to visit it in the next few weeks at the Subics' request.

"It was built with $200 in materials," she recalled from her home in Beavercreek, Ohio.

Parker's aunt, Elizabeth Pinder, was the last of the family members to live in the house. After she moved to a retirement home in 1987, the house remained vacant until 1995 when it was bought by Wendy Buffington and Jim Kovaleski.

The home is nestled amid many trees — oaks, palms, camphor, mulberry, lemon, tangerine and a Japanese orchid tree that is in bloom. About 30 untamed heirloom rose bushes are also on the property, which consumes a quarter of a city block.

Kovaleski enhanced the surroundings by building streams, ponds and a walk bridge. He also laid antique brick pathways around the property that were extended by the Subics.

The back yard boasts a carriage house and an old shack called "the Bank," said to be a transplant from the Sponge Docks.

Perhaps it was a paymaster house or a place where palm frond hats were made and sold. No one seems to know for sure.

The yard also holds a pet cemetery, where pets from the all three sets of owners are buried, along with some resident birds and squirrels.

The Subics have worked carefully to bring the home back to its original luster.

The once-blackened heart of pine floors have been refinished to reveal their original red patina. The tongue-and-groove walls are painted a sunny yellow to contrast the rich dark wood of the windows and doorways.

Like many of the Florida vernacular homes, the house was built with readily available native trees.

"This wood is so hard, you won't believe the nails we bent," Subic said. "We have to predrill our holes."

Hurricane shutters that close and latch were created for all 32 windows, which, by the way, still open.

A tin-roof breezeway connects the home and carport.

But it is the reclaimed treasures adorning the home that really define its personality.

Whimsical yard art includes an old wash tub with a ringer, a rusty bike with flat tires and a corroded push lawn mower.

"I shop at flea markets and junky stores with rusty stuff outside," Subic said. "I'm a Dumpster diver and scout out the neighborhood for anything old and yucky."

Old Pepsi and other nostalgic advertising signs like the ones seen in Cracker Barrel stores are prominent inside and out. One in the kitchen reads: We give and redeem Union Stamps.

Subic hasn't doilied up the place, either.

Instead of the lacy look, she prefers to create an old farm feel replete with rustic ladders, tools that belonged to her grandfather and other period collectibles.

The kitchen, which features a vintage cook stove, received an embossed tin panel ceiling recently. Before her handyman installed it, Subic let it "age" in the outdoors for a few days where rain and morning dew gave it an oxidized look.

Rather than cupboards, period furniture pieces serve as storage for metal casserole dishes and antique china.

The microwave is one of the few modern appliances seen in the home. Subic is proud of the fact that she doesn't own a computer, only a low-tech cell phone.

"It doesn't take pictures or videos," she said.

Upstairs, the master bedroom's closets were created using recycled screen doors, covered with unbatted quilting material and chicken wire for that down-home feel.

The bedrooms, like much of the rest of the home, are decorated with flea market finds such as a $135 dresser from the Salvation Army and another $40 dresser found in Mount Dora.

Binky, the couple's tiny teacup poodle, lounged on an old iron bed in the master bedroom. Kovaleski and Buffington left that piece for the new owners.

At the top of the stairs sits an old wardrobe trunk.

It belonged to Theresa, one of three daughters of Arthur and Theresa Pinder, when she was a college student at the Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee in the 1920s.

Subic said when the day comes to sell the home, the trunk will stay.

"It's a part of the home. We are just the caretakers of this house and when we move the next owners will be caretakers, too."

Decorating Florida Cracker homes

• When traveling through the South, look for junk depots along side of the road.

• Scout out thrift stores.

• Look around the neighborhood for trashy treasures on garbage day.

• Decorate with vintage signs, old photos and farm artifacts.

• If you buy something new made of metal, leave it outside for a few days where it can be exposed to rain and dew. Hammer a few dings into it, too.

Owners lovingly restore historic Tarpon Springs home 03/13/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 19, 2010 4:30pm]
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