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This old house is still 'spectacular'

November 30, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Even today, stately is almost an understatement.

During the 1870s and 1880s the three-story gray house with white trim and shutters at 144 W. Main St. was considered, "without a doubt the most spectacular residence in Waynesboro," according to "Antietam Ancestors," a publication of the Waynesboro Historical Society.

Many vestiges of that former glory remain today as one walks up the front walkway and enters the grand three-story foyer through a massive wooden door framed by cut glass panels on the top and sides.

A large crystal chandelier, one of several in the home, dangles from the 11-foot high ceiling.

The foyer is flanked on the right by the living room/study and on the left by the music and sitting rooms. The house has oak floors throughout.

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The house, with more than 6,000 square feet of living space, was built in 1873 and 1874 by Dr. John Murray Ripple, a local physician, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He died in 1908 at age 64, according to "Antietam Ancestors."

Ripple and his family lived in the house for about 40 years, said Janette (Shriver) Fischer, 87, Ripple's granddaughter who, with Ida Shriver, her sister-in-law, were the last of the Ripple descendants to live in the house.

A person, known only by Fischer as "Dr. Hoover," bought the house next and it was in his family for about 40 years, she said. It went vacant for about a decade until it was bought by Lucy Belivitz in the early 1960s, she said.

Fischer and her twin brother, Robert James Shriver, bought the house back into the family in 1978. Her brother has since died, but Fischer and Ida Shriver lived in the house until this summer when they sold it to Ronald and Margaret Paesch of Columbus, Ohio.

The couple runs a newspaper consulting business from their home. They had been looking for a place in Pennsylvania where they wanted to settle.

"We looked all over, from York to Harrisburg to McConnellsburg," Ronald Paesch said. "We found the house on the Internet."

It was listed at $275,000. Paesch declined to say how much the couple paid for it.

The Paesches, who have a daughter, Elizabeth, in medical school, moved in and began renovations, mostly cosmetic, like clean up and new paint, but not a small job in a house this size.

The house has 16 rooms, including five bedrooms on the second floor and four on the third, two-and-a-half baths, a large kitchen pantry, an enclosed sunporch, outside rear porches on two floors, four stairways leading upstairs plus a huge carriage house on Gay Street, the alley that passes behind the house.

The driveway, on the left side of the house, runs from West Main through a portico all the way back to the alley.

The front door is framed by leaded glass windows, a motif carried throughout the massive interior. Built-in bookcases and shelves can be seen in most downstairs rooms.

The couple seems undaunted by the task they took on. So far, painters have finished three rooms, Margaret Paesch said.

"We already have a contract to begin painting the outside in June," her husband said.

It's going to be the same "blue-gray" color with white trim, he said. The work will involve replacing some sun-damaged shutters on the home's west side, he said.

Belivitz had the house painted gray, Fischer said. "I always wanted the paint to flake off and uncover the original pink brick underneath. It's lovely," she said.

Her grandfather kept horses and carriages in the carriage shed, she said.

Fischer also lamented the loss of the 30-foot blue spruce in the front yard. "I raised it from a pup," she said.

The Paesches thought the tree overpowered the house. The blue spruce currently stands in the middle of Waynesboro's Public Square, decorated with Christmas lights and balls as the borough's official Christmas tree after it was cut down and donated to the town.

"I loved the house and its high ceilings. It gave me a feeling of grandeur. I hated to give it up but it was a monster to heat and it was getting too much for us to keep up."

The house is heated with a gas-fired steam heat that runs through radiators. Ronald Paesch said the mechanics in the house - plumbing, electrical and heating - are in good order.

Fischer said her prime focus was to maintain the integrity of the house as a private home because of her family's history in it. She said she is the sole survivor of six siblings.

Fischer said she and Shriver were pleased to sell the home to people who would appreciate it.

Fischer and her daughter, Paula, bought a home in the Penn National development.

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