Beulah and Jimmie Allman of Churubusco, Indiana are in their 90’s, married 67 years and raised in a different time, when things weren’t tossed away but used and reused...Beulah still sews on her antique Singer sewing machine. And the Allman’s penchant for recycling extends to the home they live in.
Like many small American towns Churubusco grew up along railroad tracks, and like most rail towns the local train depot was Churubusco’s connection with the outside world. That was still true when Beulah and Jimmie Allman were married in 1949 but things changed quickly after that. The railroad through Churubusco shut down in the early 1960’s and the local train depot was moved to a vacant lot across town. That’s when Beulah spotted it and decided she and Jimmie had to buy it.
“It wasn’t the train depot itself but it was taking something and improving on it,” Beulah explains. “I grew up with one of the most creative mother’s it’s possible to have and I was very encouraged that way. The first thing we did was gut the place, I mean we took it down to the studs.”
The Allman’s lowered the depot’s ten foot ceiling, built their kitchen in the old passenger waiting area and their living room in the freight warehouse. They added a couple of bedrooms and for nearly twenty-five years have lived quite comfortably in their historic little home, rebuilt, reconfigured and repurposed, just as they were taught to do by their frugal parents. The only evidence of their home’s past life is that unmistakable train depot pitch in the roof.
“So what advice would you have for anyone who might want to do the same thing, take a historic building and change it into a house?’ we ask. “To consider it,” she says. “Think it through completely and search for ideas, study books study magazines and talk to a good builder. ‘But you have no regrets?’ “None whatsoever,” she replies.