Friday, April 18, 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 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.”

Scripps Howard News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

 
Chuck Rairdan joins school board race

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

Going green at church, school, everywhere

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Former caretaker convicted of murder, elder abuse

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

Old friend helps Brad and others find kidneys

By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Ukraine insurgents reject call to quit buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 6 Comments

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

UCD to host Global Health Day event

By Cory Golden | From Page: A2

 
‘Hitchhiking’ dog looking for new home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Online K-12 school holds info night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Schwenger lawn signs available

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

Volunteers needed for Grad Night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Davis grad makes rain collection a business

By Jason McAlister | From Page: A4 | Gallery

A few spots left on history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Chipotle fundraiser boosts Emerson tech upgrade

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Event to provide nature scholarship

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Students have new options on leasing front

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Groups join for a day of service

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
NAMI backers walk in Sacramento

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Food for the hungry

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

.

Forum

Dad makes mom look bad

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Early help is a great investment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

More tax money? Answer the question

By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

 
UCD IS responsible for students

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

In search of great ideas

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

 
Please keep the nursery open

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

.

Sports

Sharks double up Kings in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Aggies lose a slugfest in opener at Riverside

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Fox coming to UCD; Riffle heads to Florida

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
DHS’ Golston goes full-bore on the diamond

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils show more life in loss to Mitty

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DYSA roundup: Intensity has big week; 10U games dominate schedule

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sports briefs: Aggies set the academic bar high

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Pro baseball roundup: Susac sends Sacramento to a rare loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

‘Transcendence’: A whole new level of tedium

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
‘The Bloom’ paves way for Whole Earth Festival

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

DHS tribute to Tony Fields slated for April 25-26

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
UCD, city team up for Music on the Green

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

Ford turns its Focus to domestic market

By Ali Arsham | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, April 18, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A9

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Yolo FCU

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Acacia at Huntington Square

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Suzanne Kimmel

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Patricia Echevarria

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Andrew Dowling

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Sheryl Patterson

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Don Guthrie

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Julie Partain & Dick Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Heather Barnes

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

Willowbank Park

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Team Traverso

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Tim Harrison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Lori Prizmich

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Raul Zamora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Open House Map

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

F1rst Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20