Big Blue, as what Adel has called her for years, was built in 1890. A Queen Anne Victorian, she was built by the Simcoke family. JL Simcoke was a pharmacist in Adel. He and his wife Mary and their children lived here and left their marks in various places that we found during restoration. The children even signed the walls before they were wallpapered. JL Simcoke was one of the men who was shot but survived during the bank robbery in 1895 in Adel.
Through the years, there were various owners. We have found numerous items noting the other families who have lived here, as well as being in contact with some of the people who grew up here as children. The Adkins family lived here in the early 1960’s and enclosed the south sleeping porch. They also added a widow’s walk to the attic that had to be removed during restoration.After the Adkins family, the McCann family lived in Big Blue until the mid 1970’s. We were able to return some of the items that needed to be removed to the family during renovation. And it was wonderful to hear the stories they had of the home when they lived here.
In the mid 1970’s, the Kester family moved to Big Blue and Laberta Kester lived here until she passed away in 2016. The Kester children have been instrumental in helping us with information and pictures of Big Blue since she was built. Including the original picture of Big Blue that has helped us to form the design plan to restore the original wrap around porch in the next year, as well as understand the construction of the south sleeping porch that was enclosed by the Adkins family and used as a closet.When we considered purchasing Big Blue, we knew it was a daunting project. The numerous obvious issues were enough to prevent most people from buying her. RallyCap, who had originally purchased her, had some amazing plans that included a possible bistro combined with studio space on the second level. However, they realized that the feasibility of this was not going to be able to fit within their schedule. Being community conscious as well as being an organization who truly is able to see the beauty and potential in old homes, they couldn’t sell to just anyone. They were adamant that if they accepted an offer, that we would not tear her down. They had even looked into moving her to a different location since people were mainly interested in the property. But realized that Adel would want Big Blue to stay where she was. We finally agreed to purchase Big Blue from RallyCap and shared in their excitement about what she could and should be again.
Our original intent was to just restore Big Blue and sell her to a deserving family. But we soon fell too much in love. As we began the design process, I quickly realized I just couldn’t give her up, and after speaking with the Chamber of Commerce, decided to embark on the idea of turning her into a home for my parents that could be utilized as a Bed and Breakfast as well. My mom Charlotte had always dreamed of running a B&B, and I was dying to have them live closer again. Plus this gave her a chance to let her gardening run wild and work on the landscaping for this home.With the help of our 5 children, our parents, the City of Adel, Lincoln Savings Bank, the ADM High School industrial Tech teacher (Mr.Reams), his students, and many others, we have managed to bring Big Blue back to what she deserves. In the following months, we will be restoring the two porches and finishing a few more restorations that won’t affect the ability to have guests stay here and enjoy the absolute beauty and charm that have been a part of this home since 1890.