Built in 1890, the Queen Anne-style house in Astoria has approximately 1,200 square feet of space on the main floor and basement. The house includes four bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom. A sleeping room with a separate entrance was added to the dwelling in the 1940s. A small, one-car unattached garage is adjacent to the home.
The house was built as a rectory for Father Dieleman, a native of Belgium and Roman
|Joy and Mike Brewer, accompanied by their 11-year-old granddaughter, Ally Berger, stand in front of their Queen Anne-style home. Photo: Greg Cohen|
Catholic priest, who arrived in Astoria in 1879 to become pastor of nearby St. Mary's Catholic Church. The dwelling was deeded by Dieleman to the Sisters of the Holy Names in 1907. It subsequently became a private home and has had a succession of owners, including Foster Ferry, a prominent Astoria stone mason, whose decorative rock walls can be found throughout the city. Mike and Joy Brewer purchased the house in 1977.
Soon after moving in, Mike Brewer began a major renovation to return the house to as close to its original appearance as possible.
"One of the former owners spent a great deal of work trying to make it into a modern home," Brewer said. "I wanted to put it back to the way it was supposed to be."
One of his major projects was removing numerous layers of wallpaper in each room that had been affixed on top of one another over the years.
Brewer also removed all the carpeting and restored the original hardwood floors.
During one of his renovation projects, Brewer discovered the kitchen's original ceiling, which had been obscured by a false ceiling.
"The original ceiling light and electric wiring was still in place; they hadn't bothered to remove it," he said.
Brewer replaced all the old-style wiring and added electrical outlets in each room. "There was only one outlet in the entire kitchen," Joy Brewer said.
Her husband undertook a major renovation of the kitchen area.
An auto mechanic by occupation, Brewer served a plumbing apprenticeship as a young man and later learned carpentry as a hobby. That knowledge and experience proved beneficial during his renovation projects.
In 2003, with the restoration completed, the couple opened their home as part of the city's tour of historic homes.
Then, the day after New Year's Day 2004, disaster struck. While the Brewers were attending a Bon Voyage party in preparation for a two-week cruise they were due to start the next day, a car traveling down 16th Street lost control and was launched approximately 54 feet in the air and landed in the bathroom of the couple's remodeled home.
The impact of the collision moved part of the house's foundation. The front portion of the house was heavily damaged, while the kitchen and rear part were left virtually unscathed, the Brewers said.
The accident also wiped out the couple's prized garden, which had been featured on the local garden tour a year before.
Deciding to continue with their planned vacation, the couple left it in the hands of their insurance adjuster to begin repairs.
"We couldn't stay in the house, so it didn't make sense to cancel our cruise," Joy Brewer said.
The Brewers left it in the hands of the contractor hired by the insurance company to handle the second major renovation of the house.
During the six-month-long project, the couple took up temporary lodging in a house Mike Brewer had recently purchased as a fixer-upper.
"I wanted him to take a two-year moratorium on (working on their home), so he bought this spec. house to fix up," Joy Brewer said.
Although the fixer-upper was rudimentary, it proved to be a smart investment, since it provided the couple with a temporary place to live.
The couple finally returned to their home in the summer of 2004.