When they purchased the house at 308 Miller St. in Marion in 1975, Terry and Pam Chizek were undaunted by the knowledge that it was built in 1924 and had seen floodwater several times.
Throughout the ensuing years, they have made it into their own unique creation. In addition to replacing plaster and making other changes to the interior, they added a lot of rock to the house and yard, including a backyard with a limestone wall on two sides and a waterfall and pond constructed of rock.
Years later, when grandchildren came along — they have nine — the couple filled in the waterfall and pond because of safety concerns, but the stonework remains.
Limestone posts line the edges of the front yard, and a stone stairway and stairwell lead to the basement.
“We just love rock,” Pam Chizek explained.
They did all of the changes themselves. Some changes, like digging out five feet of dirt from under the house to create a basement, took three years.
The house originally had a pyramid hip roof, with dormers on the front and back. The upstairs had slanted ceilings and just room enough for a bed in the middle. It was accessed through a steep, narrow stairway.
In the late 1980s, the Chizeks removed the upper structure and replaced it with straight walls and a gable roof. Two large bedrooms were created for their three daughters — Traci, Anna, and Tresa. Large windows on the south provided a perfect spot for tropical plants such as a lemon tree, palm tree, and cacti.
The stairway was removed and replaced with a circular stairway made of steel pipe. The steps were carpeted.
The dining room was paneled with wood boards from an old barn.
The Chizeks also redid the front of the house. They built a rock cupola in one corner, put rock siding halfway up, and installed a bay window.
The fact that the Chizeks like color is evident throughout the house, from the exterior to the interior. The wood exterior is painted a bright aqua blue. Pam Chizek said it has been other bright colors in the past.
Walls inside the house are painted in many different colors. The recreation room in the basement has brightly painted walls with nature scenes that were created by the couple.
The Chizeks have been married almost 40 years. Terry is a machine operator for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Pam has always been a homemaker.
“I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot to upgrade and change things,” she said. “It would be hard to move out of this house. It’s a part of what we’ve done together. It’s our home.”