Janesville47.4°

Group honors restoration of Janesville house

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
May 26, 2012
— Nathan Bussan was about to buy a foreclosed house on Milton Avenue when he found another one for sale in the city’s Fourth Ward.

“When I saw the staircase, front room marble fireplace and all the space, I knew it was going to be home,’’ he said of the 1870 Italianate at 182 S. Jackson St.


Bussan, a 34-year-old car salesman from Galena, Ill., also is a home restoration and antique hobbyist. He saw tremendous potential in the historic two-story boasting 15 rooms across 3,400 square feet.


The Janesville home, which Bussan bought Aug. 30, 2010, is the 13th home he’s restored. Others are located in Galena and Hanover, Ill.; Dubuque, Iowa; Madison and Columbus.


“I moved in the day I took possession,” Bussan said. “Its condition was awful.”


When Bussan moved in, the home’s front hall had green indoor/outdoor carpeting glued to the linoleum underneath. The staircase had been painted, and the house had been divided into three apartments.


In the basement, Bussan found 50 years worth of old furniture that helped fill four large Dumpsters.


“There wasn’t one good thing in there,’’ he said.


But the bad transformed into good over 21 months as Bussan updated everything from electrical to plumbing, installed a new kitchen and bathroom, refinished floors and knocked out walls to return rooms to their original size.


Today the home is 90 percent restored.


For his effort, Bussan was honored with the Janesville Historic Commission’s Residential Historic Preservation Award.


“It was kind of a surprise,” Bussan said. “I didn’t think I’d win. There are a lot of other beautiful houses in this town, so I was excited to get it.”


Fourth Ward Committee spokesperson Burdette Erickson had high praise for Bussan’s work.


“He took one of our large homes in the Fourth Ward that had been deemed uninhabitable and restored it back to a single-family home,” Erickson said.


In doing so, Bussan “has helped set off a trend of moving forward instead of backward in the neighborhood, where others fix up their homes, too,” Erickson said.


Erickson also noted that contributions like Bussan’s help make Janesville a better place in which to live.


“We’ve gone after the drug dealers and criminals, and the police have taken care of the drug traffic,” Erickson said. “The problem in the past was three bad apartments and Nathan’s house. It’s not there anymore. Those people have moved on.


“That’s why rehabbing a house like this is so important, and that’s what helps bring about the change.”



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