AUBURN — When Emily Andam first saw the 150-year-old brick house at 6 N. Fulton St., a light in her head flickered on.
Hoping to relocate to the East Coast, she found the house online in March of last year and made an offer a week later. That June, she closed on it. And the next month, she moved to Auburn from Highland, Utah, to restore and live in the house with her twin 16-year-old sons, Dashawn and Davyse.
Though the house will be a private residence, Andam has invited her new community to follow its restoration. Calling it the Candlelight House, Andam will place a candle in one of its 38 windows every time she finishes a phase of the project. And those who can't monitor the progress in person can visit thecandlelighthouse.com or facebook.com/theofficialcandlelighthouse.
"This is more than just me coming in and fixing a house. I want people to be proud of this," Andam said there Thursday. "Auburn's such a great town with so much history. I want this to be part of it."
Andam purchased the house for $27,000, according to Cayuga County property records. Its 2018 assessed market value is $27,999.
According to previous assessment records, the Cayuga County Historian's Office estimates that the 22,000-square-foot home was built sometime in the early 1870s. The property was owned by Lyman Soule, who donated the land where Soule Cemetery stands on Franklin Street Road in Sennett. The house has had several owners, the historian's office said, and was flipped often in the second half of the 20th century. One of its owners, Mike Vasco, operated a haunted house there in the late 1970s, according to The Citizen archives. At the time, it was 40 N. Fulton St., not No. 6.
That history of ownership is indexed in the house itself, as Andam has learned. Along with stabilizing its porch and one of its rear walls, some of the first work she and her sons completed was removing a 1970s addition at the rear of the house and exposing two staircases that had been buried in closets. They've also ripped out its carpet to uncover its hardwood floors and dug out samples of its period wallpaper, which they hope to restore or reproduce. Andam said the biggest challenge facing the project will be finding contractors who can meet its historically specific demands.
However, Andam has yet to decide whether she'll make use of any resources available to historic preservation projects like hers, such as the National Register of Historic Places. Though she wants her new home to be as "historically accurate and correct" as possible, from its plaster finishes to its tuckpointed brick, she also wants to retain the freedom to deviate from history if necessary, she said.
As dingy and debris-strewn as the house was Thursday, Andam hopes to complete its restoration within the next year. Her next focus is the cupola, which, along with the sloping mansard roof, is a fixture of the Second Empire 19th-century architectural style that the house exemplifies. Andam and her sons were also amused to discover a rusted lightning rod attached to that part of the house.
Until her future home is complete, Andam is renting a home around the corner — and counting the days until those 38 windows are alight.
"I have amazing plans for this house," she said. "This is going to be my dream house. This is something that I will have forever."