In 1918, Woodrow Wilson was president, and U.S. Food Administrator Herbert Hoover was calling for wheat-less and meat-less days to assist with the World War I war efforts.
In Arizona, architect and builder J.D. Howell was building the Green-McAbee house on a dusty lot in Glendale.
A hundred years later, the house’s current owners are celebrating its birthday and looking back on its history.
From house to home
Bud Zomok was raised in Glendale and graduated from Glendale High School. He purchased the 1,413-square-foot house in Caitlin Court 11 years ago with the intention to flip it. It was a mess — purple ceilings, matted shag carpeting and a sagging roof.
Once the deed was recorded, Zomok strolled the property forming a rehab game plan. He was taken aback when neighbor after neighbor stopped by to welcome him to the community that afternoon. Zomok stopped counting at twelve.
Moved by the sense of inclusion and community, Zomok felt no need to divulge his intent to flip the house. Somewhere between neighbor No. 1 and No. 12, Zomok had a change of heart. For the first time he considered making the house his home.
Fixing the roof
The first order of business was the roof.
Upon finishing his inspection in the attic, the contractor said he wouldn’t take the job at any price. Sketchy sections of electrical wiring on the archaic 1920s knob-and-tube system combined with amateur splicing attempts throughout the years created a minefield of hazards.
The contractor’s parting comment was to notify Zomok about the healthy crop of ferns growing wildly atop the roof, thriving on a water source from years of swamp cooler leakage.
Zomok wondered what he’d gotten himself into.
A second roofer with a more adventurous pedigree agreed to take on the challenge. Layers upon layers of cedar shingles were responsible for the burden on the structure. With decades of roofing removed and plywood replaced, the roof returned to its proud posture.
Expanding and renovating
Then the next phase of reconstruction began — revitalizing the home’s long-abandoned interior.
To make the house better fit his needs, Zomok decided to expand the footprint of livable space. He hired a historic architect to design an addition that would maintain the integrity of the original house.
Over a 17-month process, the house was fully restored, rewired, and the 1,600-square-foot addition was completed. The architect designed a breezeway to connect the old with the new, keeping the Craftsman bungalow structure intact with original windows and hardwoods.
A spacious master bedroom suite, home office, laundry room and hallway connecting old and new brought the house to 3,000 livable square feet.
The kitchen was gutted, redesigned, modernized and expanded with wood cabinetry and stainless steel appliances. The enormous root cellar sporting an eight-foot ceiling and concrete walls was kept intact. A movable island rests atop its entrance.
The detached double garage was deemed unsafe, torn down and rebuilt with a guest suite incorporated on the back side.
It was common for builders to leave their mark with a signature “builder’s notch” on outside corner eaves of their structures. With the garage being demolished and rebuilt, a specific saw blade was required to duplicate J.D. Howell’s builder’s notch and reflect the existing accent on the house. The special blade was located in Tempe, and a prototype made from the original notched eave allowed replication of the exact design.
Inviting comfort — and maybe a nap
The large front porch is welcoming. A wooden swing plush with pillows holds court at the north end. Zomok admits to falling asleep on the breezy front porch following his day job and hours rehabbing the home.
The tapered column designs embracing the front porch are repeated inside on a smaller scale. Wrapped in stained wood, they separate the living and dining rooms.
The public areas of the house have higher-quality hardwood floors, with less desirable woods installed in the family living quarters — a common practice in the early 1900s to cut costs.
The interior walls are plaster. Every time he hammers a nail to hang artwork from Thomas Kinkade, Norman Rockwell or Romero Britto, Zomok finds himself silently apologizing to the house.
When given the opportunity by the contractor to silence creaks in the aged hardwood floors, Bud chose to leave them. It was his feeling the home had earned every creak, and each would be celebrated — even at 3 a.m. when trying to sneak a bowl of ice cream.
There are wood-burning fireplaces on opposite walls in the living room and the parlor.
Here comes the bride
Zomok first met his wife, Lorraine, when they were teenagers employed at Valley West Mall — Bud in the food court, and Lorraine at a cookie kiosk. Lorraine also grew up in Glendale and graduated from Cactus High School.
Serendipity reunited the two inside a Glendale municipal office just a short walk from the house where they now live. Lorraine was employed as a manager of Glendale’s office of tourism, and Bud immediately recognized her when he visited the office seeking advice in promoting his business, Memory Lane Trinkets and Treasures.
Their renewed friendship eventually led to the couple’s love story.
Lorraine admitted her first few weeks living in their home were unsettling, given the creaking floors and the close proximity to an active train route. But it wasn’t long before she succumbed to the home’s charm.
Three years later, Lorraine’s love for the home is equal to Bud’s and palpable in her pride and sense of responsibility in retaining its historic stature. Those train engines now lull her into restful sleep.
The house’s history
It’s unclear how many prior owners the Green-McAbee house has had, but the estimate nears 20. And the Zomoks often hear new stories about the house.
One evening a few years ago, Bud noticed an elderly woman staring at the house from the sidewalk. Sensing history, he invited her inside.
She declined, saying she’d had her first kiss in the house’s parlor as a young girl. The boy’s parents caught them and raised a fuss. She never set foot in the house again.
Bud suggested maybe bad memories could be replaced with good, and he persuaded her to come inside. As she entered the parlor, the woman was emotionally moved and delighted that nothing had seemingly changed over time. She thanked Bud for the positive experience.
The Zomoks said that while the inside of the house is theirs, the outside belongs to the community. They said they’ll ask the community for input next time they choose an exterior.
October is a great month for the McAbee-Green home, as well as for the Zomoks. Bud and Lorraine will celebrate their third wedding anniversary and the 100th birthday of their home.
Invitations have been created for a community open house, and yard signs are in place announcing the milestone.
At the top of their invite list is the gracious neighbors who were instrumental in Bud’s decision to make a dilapidated house the Zomoks’ beautiful home.