16 Curb Appeal Finalist: The Gilkie Family

South Bend, Ind. Overgrown and outdated landscaping can take a lot of time, sweat and money to clear away; but for the winner of our 16 Curb Appeal contest, that's not a problem.

The experts at Linton's Enchanted Gardens are ready to help some lucky resident with a new design, shrubs and flowers worth $5,000.

Our third finalist is not only dealing with neglected landscaping, the family is also trying to revitalize a historic home in the Near Northwest Neighborhood of South Bend.

Clinton and Shundra Gilkie’s home is the only one left standing in their area of Sherman Avenue, right off of Lincolnway, after several vacant and abandoned homes had to be torn down or collapsed. In fact, their home was on the demo list when they got it; but as it turns out, it is a local landmark.

“It's a 1915 prairie-style house,” Shundra said. “We acquired it about two years ago, and started renovations on the inside, don't know what to do on the outside as of yet.”

The Greening House was owned by prominent businessman Robert Greening and his wife Ida. He owned a popular paint and home decor store on Lincolnway and asked renowned architect Ennis Austin to design a home in this growing stretch of South Bend.

The firm Austin and Shambleau is responsible for several early 20th century structures on the national registry of historic buildings, like the Federal Courthouse, the Tower Building and even the Eberhart Mansion in Mishawaka. Though more modest, the Greening House still features elaborate stone work and original siding.

“It's a lot of character and history right here, you know,” Clinton said. “Some people have appreciation of the value of older homes and I would like to preserve that.”

But the Gilkie family says it hasn’t been easy.

“We had a lot of vandalism before we purchased the house,” Shundra said. “During the renovations, someone again actually entered the house, and stole things out of it. It's been an uphill battle but we've been successful so far.”

They still have a lot of expensive renovations to make in keeping with the home's historic integrity. That leaves very little time or money for landscaping.

Old overgrown shrubs are blocking the stones on the front porch and the family knows it could look a lot better.

“It's kind of a blank slate,” Shundra said. “And we have no starting point. It would be great to upgrade the neighborhood. We need to go ahead and start the ground work so everyone else can follow for blocks over.”

“It'll make you feel better about coming home,” Clinton said. “Just show what can be done here on this street. We're the only one on that block. Make people wish they had that home.”

While researching the history of the home we learned the building directly behind it, that collapsed, was the same building where Mr. Greening had his paint and home décor business many years ago.

Be sure to cast your vote for which finalist you’d like to win the 16 Curb Appeal contest. Voting begins Friday night at 6:30 and you can do so right here on our web site.

To check out the first finalist’s story, click here and the second finalist’s story, click here.

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