If the more-than-100-year-old walls at 142 Forest Avenue could talk, they would have quite the stories to tell. In the early 1900s, the cottage was home to a traveling doctor who built a little vestibule in the foyer to house caskets of his deceased patients for viewing until the funeral. Later, the downtown Marietta house became the office of a divorce attorney who narrowly avoided being killed by the gun-wielding ex-husband of one of his clients. Like we said—stories.
Thanks to an extensive renovation over the past year, this charming craftsman-style cottage has been restored to its original beauty as a single-family home. The house, which is part of the Forest Hills Historic District, is an easy five-minute walk from Marietta Square, sitting at the edge of the commercial block. While that justified its use as a law office for the past 50 years, it now provides an enviable location, just steps from the action of the Square.
Bryan and Danielle Musolf, who bought the building to renovate and sell, are outspoken advocates of Marietta living: they left Atlanta after their first child was born 15 years ago and never looked back. “I can walk to my office on the Square, our church, and our favorite restaurants and watering holes,” Bryan says. “It’s the walkable lifestyle so many communities are trying to create, but it’s 100 percent authentic here.”
“It was in incredibly rough condition, but the bones were so striking,” Bryan says. These included 12-foot ceilings, all the original doors (including a gorgeous pair of pocket doors separating what is now the kitchen and dining room), detailed woodwork still intact throughout the house, leaded glass and diamond pane windows, as well as all of the original mantles on the home’s five fireplaces.
Given that no one had been living in the house, there had been zero updates from the 1960s until the Musolfs purchased it for $305,000 in late 2017. The “total gut job” included installing entirely new electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, as well as reworking the layout a bit to convert it from an office to a home.
Bryan and Danielle had flipped several houses in the early 2000s, but took on this house as a “fun project to manage together.” They enlisted Keystone Structural Engineering and Right Angle Remodeling to manage the construction and Molly Sellers of Sellers and Company to handle the design. The transformation is nothing short of dazzling. Most of the woodwork was painted white, brightening each room and allowing the stained wood elements (many of the mantles and doors, and of course the hardwood floors) to really shine.
Several smaller rooms were combined to create a sprawling chef’s kitchen that’s drenched in natural light. The master suite—which boasts a fireplace in both the bedroom and bathroom—is at the rear of the main floor, and there are four additional bedrooms and three full bathrooms upstairs, along with an additional spacious living area. For those keeping track: what was once the casket vestibule in the foyer is now a powder room.
While the home’s charming wrap-around front porch had remained intact, the property was “literally paved corner to corner in the front and rear yards as parking lots,” Bryan says, a result of its use as a commercial building. The team brought in grass and landscaping, but kept the convenient driveway and rear parking. The house also gained a sunny screened-in porch and a spacious deck off the back of the house.
While Bryan and Danielle always planned on reselling the house after completing the renovation, they still see themselves as benefitting from the project in the long-run. “I’m a huge believer in having as much residential density in downtown areas as possible,” Bryan says of rezoning the property as a house. “It adds to the evening vibrancy, and I sincerely hope this project starts a trend.”
The historic Marietta property, located at 142 Forest Avenue, is on the market for $919,900. For more information contact Johnny Sinclair of Harry Norman Realtors at 770-605-4755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.