Steve Ives dreamed of owning an old home with color and got it.
He and his wife, Julie, and their children — Zadock, Hazel, Hannah, Daniel Elijah and Noah — landed a historic gem in the old Livingston Farm in Lewis.
The Iveses discovered the property on the Internet in September 2008. At the time, the asking price was a little high. Still, they checked it out and discovered the early 19th-century home needed a lot of fixer-upping.
"My wife was really reluctant," Steve said. "We let it go."
Early last March, he discovered the price had dropped, and they made an offer.
Steve, a native New Yorker, and Julie, a native Oregonian, had longed for the rural life. They took the plunge when Steve, a contractor, moved his family from St. Petersburg six years ago to rehab a client's Lake Placid home.
He and his family moved into the 19th-century Adirondack house, where they would live while he renovated it.
"It was like throwing lambs to the wolves almost," he said of that first winter. "We had to deal with snow and staying warm. The house didn't really have a heating system, per se. We froze that first winter."
But the experience was a good one.
"We decided we wanted to stay in this area."
The Lewis property was not easy on the eyes, but its history was fascinating. On the deed, the first owner listed was Platt Rogers, a Revolutionary War officer responsible for the survey of old State Route 9 from Albany to Plattsburgh. For this service, he was granted a large tract of land, which includes the Iveses' 24-acre parcel.
Rogers moved to Basin Harbor, Vt., and established a sail ferry to Westport. His daughter, Harriet, married John Winans. The Winans brothers, John and James, inn and tavern keepers, constructed the first steamboat, "Vermont," on Lake Champlain. It was the second steamboat in the nation.
Rogers sold his Lewis property to Continental Army Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler (1733-1804). Schuyler owned the property a year before selling it to Morgan Lewis (1754-1844), son of Francis Lewis, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Lewis, a Revolutionary War officer at Sackets Harbor and French Creek, was the third governor of New York.
In 1779, Lewis married Gertrude Livingston, the daughter of Robert R. Livingston, (1718-1775), a prominent New York Whig. Robert R. Livingston was the son of "Robert of Clermont" (1688-1775), a New York colonial assembly member and the son of Robert Livingston (1654-1728), the first lord of Livingston Manor.
Livingston descendants include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush.
"It was like, you have to be kidding me," Steve said.