Griffin and Shelley Hearn's historic home is both very public and very private.
The 1906 Craftsman bungalow at 19th and Northern avenues is passed by thousands of motorists every month. The eye-catching house is large, sits on a huge lot and looks far different than most Phoenix homes. The owners decorate the house for Christmas and Fourth of July and take pride in keeping it manicured for passers-by.
But it’s also become an intimate space for family, friends and neighbors. The elegant yet comfortable rooms have greeted hundreds of loved ones for many a holiday and the backyard has hosted 20 weddings, neighborhood festivities galore, and even the funeral of a beloved neighbor.
The warm space invites visitors to stay a little longer, share one more story or have another drink.
The bungalow was built on what was once a dusty, rutted road — now Northern Avenue— and sits on a 1.3-acre lot. The 4,100-square-foot home has three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, two bathrooms, an indoor office and an outdoor office. The basement has its own kitchen, living room, bathroom and a separate entrance.
The original owner grew fruit trees and alfalfa to feed a small herd of cows and sent the milk to a dairy in Glendale. Water was pumped from a well and horses were kept in a barn in the backyard. There were few neighbors, but according to research done by the home’s current owners, the residence was known even then as a place for get-togethers.
The Hearns bought the house 19 years ago and spent two years restoring it.
“We love this house because we are connected to its past and have preserved it for generations to come,” said Shelley Hearn. “We have the great pleasure of knowing that our neighbors care about this house as much as we do.”
The house is a showpiece now but was in terrible shape when the Hearns bought it — it was deemed valueless and the purchase price was really only for the land. Shortly after buying it, the Hearns hosted a party and jokingly asked guests to vote whether they should renovate the home or tear it down and start over. The group was split.
“We had to bring it up to code, electrical, all that, to make it a fully functioning home, but kept all the charm of yesteryears,” said Shelley’s husband, Griffin.
Griffin grew up two miles away in a house from the same era, also surrounded by citrus.
“Moving here was kind of a dream come true because I really loved where we grew up and then I was able to go back to my roots,” he said.
The house was one of the first bungalows in the area and was seemingly in the middle of nowhere, he said. Now it’s surrounded by development, but the ample lot allows for an intimate feel.
“It’s a perfect gathering place,” Griffin said. “It’s a warm and inviting home. The Arts and Crafts-style houses are so pleasant. They remind you of a simpler time. TV commercials often have a bungalow house as the backdrop because it evokes a special time and place. This will probably be the last house that we live in. We’re pretty connected.”
Griffin, a contractor and hole-drilling specialist, made a fateful decision early into owning the home by choosing to expand the basement. He dug out more land, but before he could stabilize the space, a storm came through and destroyed one of the walls.
“Once one part came down it all started to come down,” he said. “But it was one of the best things that could of happened," he said. "We were able to build the foundation the way it was supposed to be built.”
Re-establishing a strong foundation was just one way the Hearns were thorough in their restoration. They consumed themselves with Craftsman research and even visited with the creator of the bungalow color palette so they could choose an authentic color scheme.
“We traveled around the country and took pictures of other bungalows and got ideas from all over,” Griffin said.
The house has many special features, such as a hidden play space on the top floor, built-ins, and a balcony off the master bathroom.
The couple raised three daughters in the home, and now host them and their six grandchildren regularly. The basement is a favorite spot for the grandkids and is so big that the adults “barely even know the kids are down there,” Griffin said.
Shelley said the house has been a labor of love, and now it’s a place to cultivate love.
“These gatherings create traditions and memories and things that are important,” she said.
She said she’s not sure she’d have the energy to take on a project like this again, but that she and Griffin are extremely glad they did this work. The house has become more than a house. It’s an experience — one that belongs to their community and everyone who passes by.
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