Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Nephew preserves his uncle’s passion for the past

Isi Murlowski held many lavish parties in this grand ballroom addition, which feels like it's from another century, with its antique French crystal chandelier, 1850s reclaimed wood floor, 1800s French carpet and ornate plaster-cast ceiling molding and doorway. SHNS photo by Joel Koyama/Minneapolis Star Tribune

By
From page A4 | August 18, 2013 |

By Lynn Underwood
Scripps Howard News Service

Peter Murlowski’s Uncle Isidore was eccentric. In 1959, he asked his brother, Henry Murlowski (Peter’s father), to build him a reproduction of a 1761 saltbox Colonial in New Brighton, Minn., nestled among the ramblers and split-levels.

Over the years, Isidore, an antiques dealer, put a unique, Euro-style stamp on his home. He added a stunning sitting room covered with 250-year-old dark French paneling. For his lavish parties, he built a 14-foot-tall grand ballroom and filled it with 18th- and 19th-century pieces. The Colonial is surely the only home in the neighborhood with a veranda surrounded by white Corinthian columns, which originally graced a 150-year-old Georgian Southern mansion. Peter and the crew from his business, TimberCraft Remodeling, erected those columns, as well as positioning heavy concrete statues on the rooftop.

“I was thinking how crazy Isi was,” recalled Peter. “I never, ever thought I’d be living in that house.”

Twenty years later, Peter and his wife, Patti, own the one-of-a-kind Colonial that reflects his uncle’s passion for antiques, art and architectural salvage. Isi collected centuries-old wood and ornate columns and recycled them in the millwork throughout his house, long before it was a popular “green” practice.

For the Murlowskis, taking responsibility for Isi’s eccentric endeavors wasn’t a cavalier decision.

In 2001, Isi, then 82, had heart failure in the home and later died. The Murlowski family was hoping a relative would buy the home, but “no one was stepping up,” said Peter. “Some of the nieces and nephews thought it was haunted because of the stories Isi would tell.”

So an antiques-dealer friend bought it and later decided to sell the sprawling home in 2010. But there wasn’t a single buyer with an offer.

Peter and Patti were living six blocks away in the home where they had raised their boys. “I was afraid to buy Isi’s house. It would be a full-time job to clean,” said Patti. With all the additions, the Colonial had grown to nearly 6,000 square feet. “The hideous lime-green living room needed painting, and the basement was scary,” she added. But for Peter, the house wasn’t just a building. It held many emotional ties from his childhood.

“Isi let us kids run around even though the house was full of antiques,” he said. Plus Peter’s company had done several of the remodeling projects over the years. Now that their sons were grown, the couple decided the time was right.

“This is our empty-nester project,” said Patti. “We didn’t get the memo to downsize.”

After a half-century, the home needed many improvements. The Murlowskis updated the furnace and plumbing, painted several rooms and landscaped the weed-infested yard.

“My uncle would spend $20,000 on an antique bookcase but never cared much about maintenance,” said Peter. A few months after they moved in, the master-bathroom shower sprung a leak, and water poured into the hearth room below. That was the only time the couple second-guessed their decision. “But I can feel Isi laughing at us for taking this on,” said Peter.

The neglected home did hold many silver linings. In 2000, Peter had finally persuaded Isi to remodel the tiny 1950s galley kitchen. TimberCraft put a 150-square-foot addition off the back of the house and created an updated Tuscan-style kitchen with black granite countertops and poplar plank floors. An adjacent sunroom built at the same time was paneled with late-1800s antique doors, collected by Isi.

The Murlowskis love to read in the original cozy hearth room, which boasts a massive masonry stone fireplace modeled after ones that families in the 1700s used to cook meals. Peter scavenged the ceiling’s antique iron chandelier from a job demolition. “I’m starting to follow in my uncle’s footsteps,” he said with a laugh.

Uncle Isi couldn’t stop collecting antiques, so he continued to add new rooms to hold them, said Peter. “My father thought he was nuts, but gave in to him in the end.”

In the 1970s, Henry built his brother the extravagant ballroom — decked out with antique wood-plank floors and a 19th-century French crystal chandelier — to host his famed Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties. Today the ballroom is furnished with an antique Chippendale-style, red leather camelback sofa, an 1860s French carpet and other pieces the Murlowskis inherited after Isi died.

After Peter’s father retired, he took on the role of contractor for hire and fulfilled Isi’s most over-the-top request. “He had found 250-year-old paneling from a French countryside chapel,” said Peter. “He asked us to build a room for it.”

Peter and Patti call this elegant sitting area off the master bedroom “The French Room.” It’s a sight to behold, with a cathedral ceiling painted with a trompe l’oeil or “trick-the-eye” design, by Isi and decorative painter Karl-Heinz Meschbach, that won an award in 1992. “It looks like the ceiling of a European chapel,” said Peter.

The Murlowskis are happily settled into their unique abode.

“After two years, we still call it ‘Isi’s house,’ ” said Patti. “But now it’s starting to feel like our home.”

Comments

comments

Scripps Howard News Service

.

News

Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

 
School district may redevelop downtown site

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

 
Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Scots vote to stay in UK

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
DUI suspected in crash

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Storyteller will draw on music, dance

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Register to vote by Oct. 20

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Free workout class set at library

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis maps available at Chamber office

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Reception benefits endangered gorillas

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Downtown history tour planned in October

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Davis hosts its own climate change rally

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Qigong classes available for heart health

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Sick of being the bad guy

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

By Our View | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
Return to previous plan

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Save the ‘pine cone place’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Affirm our community values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Project has safety risks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Learn more about Paso Fino

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Educate homeless with dogs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Take Zona and Bama this week

By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Features

Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A10

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Taylor Morrison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Norcal Land

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Robin Garland

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Dana Hawkins

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Martha Bernauer

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Remax

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Melrina A Maggiora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Julie Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Jamie Madison & Associates

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Marcelo Campos

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Bob Bockwinkel

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Juan Ramirez

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

James Hanna

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Raul Zamora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Susan von Geldern

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Lisa Haass

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

First Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24