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Steadmans reclaim Short Street house after commercial rezoning

Jeanne and Stan Steadman have renovated the house at 14 Short St., the first commercial site in the rezoned block. (CONTRIBUTED)
Jeanne and Stan Steadman have renovated the house at 14 Short St., the first commercial site in the rezoned block. (CONTRIBUTED)
This 'before' photograph shows the house's deteriorating condition. (CONTRIBUTED)
This ‘before’ photograph shows the house’s deteriorating condition. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Jeanne and Stan Steadman ignored advice about saving the house at 14 Short St., now the first commercial site in the rezoned block.

“Burn it to the ground,” the realtor and owner’s granddaughter told the Steadmans when they inquired about the house.

“The realtor told me the only value was in the land, the house wasn’t safe and it was uninhabitable,” Jeanne Steadman said. “She wouldn’t go in the house.”

As a self-described “passionate preservationist,” Steadman was determined to save the house. “My husband Stan agreed, and we started the renovation,” she said. Built in 1945, the house is the southernmost site in the Madison Station Historical District.

Sunshine Images, a photography studio specializing in children and babies, already has rented the property.

“I’m thrilled this humble structure, ‘the little house that could,’ has a new lease on life,” Steadman said. “Hopefully, it will play an important role yet again in Madison’s history for many years. Once the home of early Madison residents, now it has a different incarnation as commercial property.”

City Council rezoned this entire block in October 2013.

“Little, humble houses are just as important as the mansions. They tell the true story (and) are part of the fabric of the community … not every one lived in a mansion,” Steadman said.

Exterior renovation included a new metal roof, steps and screen porch and removing a rotten wheelchair ramp and back porch. Workers returned concrete blocks in an air conditioner opening, replaced window frames and repaired rafters, fascias and soffits.

The interior’s restoration involved roof, ceiling and wall repair; new sheetrock, floor joists, pipes and bathroom; and adding central heating/cooling. Original hardwood floors surprisingly are poplar.

“Years ago, you saw these concrete structures everywhere. Workers on large cotton farms lived there,” Steadman said. A few more remain on Sullivan Street, Browns Ferry and Mooresville roads and Hwy. 20 to Decatur.

The Steadmans also own warehouses on Bradley Street. They hope other residents support revitalization Madison’s historic downtown, following the city’s investment in downtown.

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