After heavy use and poor maintenance, the structure was in serious risk. Given new life in 2000, the front buildings underwent major repairs, including adding a 2x6 frame structure inside the brick walls to bear the load of the roof and floors. During the renovations, the open breezeway was closed in and the apartments on the second floor were combined into one large living space. The third floor was also converted to a single living space and here some of the original mill work and floors can be seen. The building interior was redesigned to fit the lifestyle of its’ new owners, Susan and Tom Hargrove. Tom’s book, Long March to Freedom, is the diary kept during his 300+ days in captivity after being kidnapped by Guerrillas in Columbia. The movie “Proof of Life”, staring Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe was inspired by Tom’s ordeal. Unlike the movie, Tom was an agronomist who worked in under developed countries to improve their crop productions, particularly, rice. His release was negotiated by his wife Susan and their son with the help of hostage specialist. After Tom’s release, the couple came to Galveston and purchased the property in 1998. Sadly, both Tom and Susan died relatively young and never completed their vision.
When purchased by the current owners the house had been vacant for several years. The ground floor had four feet of water during hurricane Ike and had to be gutted and redone from scratch. The back walls of the carriage houses had completely failed and many of the floor joists had succumbed to rot and termites. The carriage houses have been structurally repaired and plans are being made to convert one into an apartment. The pavers in the courtyard were removed so drainage issues could be addressed. All new electrical and plumbing for the ground floor and new HVAC systems for the whole house have been completed as well as new roofs to correct serious water intrusion and subsequent damage. Much work remains on the exterior and the reconstruction of the original carriage houses behind the main house but the current owners are committed to continuing the restoration. More detail can be found in the Blog.