This is a tale of two families who came out of their way to move into Old Town Greenwood. These couples have, separately, spent years buying and rehabbing old homes in Johnson and Marion counties. A question comes to mind: Why move to Greenwood now?
“Greenwood is a pretty cool place these days,” says Ken Gall, one of Old Town Greenwood’s newer residents. Replants from Indianapolis in August 2016, Ken and Carole Gall, now living at 230 W. Broadway St., exemplify the latest wave of new neighbors choosing to move to the city. “We bought the location,” points out Carole. “We like old houses, and we could continue our walkable lifestyle.”
They Are Not Alone
A few blocks to the west of the Galls are Danny and Kelly McLaughlin. They moved into their latest rehab house at 350 W. Broadway St. this spring. They live directly west of the newly refurbished Cornerstone Autism Center, the former city hall and Polk Community House. Their newly remodeled home is also conveniently next to his mother’s house.
“We like being able to walk to our church [Vineyard Community Church] and the library. Greenwood has a great library,” says Danny. “Kelly and I play tennis in Craig Park, and I walk, run and ride bikes. The easy access to the trails and parks is great. Living here feels like you’re more a part of the community.”
The Galls and McLaughlins have bought and rehabbed homes for years to add value and stability to neighborhoods. Danny and Kelly began this type of real estate adventure around 2006. Since then, the couple have rehabbed two homes in Center Grove and one in Perry Township. They also have redone several in Old Town Greenwood. Beginning with a historic home in the Polk Place neighborhood, the couple have since added 400 W. Main St., 132 Greenwood St. and 548 Euclid to their remodeling accomplishments.
The Galls began with a different story. Ken has a 35-year history of working with nonprofit neighborhood redevelopment organizations. Of those years, 17 were with Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND) and another seven working for Eastside Community Investments. Many of those years, the Galls lived in Indianapolis’s Fountain Square neighborhood before revitalization had taken hold of the area.
As Ken worked to rebuild physical change in neighborhoods through his job, he and Carole began to buy old, “slumlord homes,” as Carole calls them, near their own house. When a home came up for sale, Carole says, “We gave them a low ball offer. To our surprise, they accepted.”
Bringing Back the Big Homes
Financing and paying for the expensive insurance on the rehab work themselves, the Galls slowly turned large old homes that had been split into three and four apartments back into single family homes. Over time, the couple rehabbed seven homes within a two-block radius of their Fountain Square home.
They worked with McCarty Brothers General Contractors who handled the biggest aspects. The transient population began to shift. Ken is pleased that the first two Lilly employees to live in Fountain Square bought homes that the Galls had rehabbed. “Those changes did contribute to the stabilization of the neighborhood,” notes Ken.
Later, the couple moved to and rehabbed a home in a historic district near IUPUI. Then Carole could walk to her job at the IU Medical Library. With retirement last year, the Galls wanted to maintain an active lifestyle in a neighborhood setting and to live near family in the Greenwood area. Plus, as Ken notes, there is a sentimental reason. “My parents met in 1943 at the Machledt House on Madison Avenue.”
Ken and Carole thoroughly enjoy being able to walk to downtown restaurants and shopping and to use nearby trails and parks. The Galls discovered The Social on Polk Street and love walking the mile there for international dance sessions.
“Ken has the creative vision for reimagining what can be done with a home,” says Carole. He can envision how space can be reconfigured. The Galls opened up the interior space within their W. Broadway home by moving a few walls, moving the placement of windows, adding windows and adding skylights in key places. They replaced the uneven six steps leading to the front porch with a slight sidewalk ramp, four steps and a sturdy banister.
There are Always Regulations
The McLaughlins had to do significant work to rehab their Broadway home. City regulations became a hindrance, so Danny redesigned how the building would be laid out to fit the current requirements. The house has less space than a previous home on Euclid, so Danny and Kelly built shelves into the walls in nearly every room to utilize space to the maximum.
Pre-YouTube, this couple learned from books how to lay hardwood floors, set toilets, do plumbing, set windows and doors and craft designer window molding. Kelly does all of the interior painting and exterior trim. Danny used to do the demolition work too but has stepped away from that now, due to the effects of the dust. Danny credits Kelly with the designer eye. “Even years ago when we lived a year in a rundown, unkempt area of Fountain Square, I would walk into our house, and Kelly would have it looking beautiful!”
The vibrant neighborly pull of Greenwood appeals to these couples. It is walkable and, as Danny says, bike-able. The Galls and McLaughlins are only two examples of a budding community vision for a revitalized downtown. People are being drawn in to see the positive life potential in older homes and the powerful effect remodeling has on neighborhoods … and themselves.
These sentiments echo the overarching vision of Mayor Mark Myers, the City Council, Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and citizen-driven groups, such as Restore Old Town Greenwood and Neighbors West of Old Town Greenwood. The vision and energies of local citizens and City leadership have begun to align in recent years on a level unseen for decades.
There are so many interesting things to do now in downtown Greenwood that
Danny jokes, “You could almost never have to leave the area.”