Couple Turns Historic House Into Unique Office

This article was written in the Dover Post about Spruce Acres. It was written shortly after the property was purchased by Andy and Jen Nowak.


Couple Turns Historic House Into Unique Office
by Ben Andersen, Staff Writer: Dover Post


When Andy and Jen Nowak walked into the Buckson Mansion last year, they saw potential.

Of course, like others before them, the Dover couple saw the water damage, the cracking paint and the antiquated electrical system. But they saw potential. “It was definitely a leap of faith, there’s no two ways about it,” Mr.Nowak said. “It was one of those things where we walked around going, ‘Wow, this is going to be a big project.’”

“We didn’t know how big, because once you get into it you uncover more and more that needs to be done,” Mrs. Nowak added. “So, renovations we thought would take a couple months are still continuing.” The Nowaks, who have two young daughters, bought the building last year when Mrs. Nowak’s law firm, Gibson & Nowak Attorneys at Law, was looking to expand its space. Originally built in the 1840s, the mansion, called Spruce Acres, fell into deep disrepair after prominent judge David P. Buckson moved out. The Nowaks spent almost as much money on renovations as on the building itself, but the couple ensured the overhaul was as historically accurate as possible.

An office building was a natural evolution for the site because the couple could keep most of the interior intact.

“I felt like we’d be doing a disservice if we turned it into an apartment building,” Mr. Nowak said.

While the work continues today, the office, located at 110 N. Main St. in Camden, is open for business. A grand staircase greets visitors at the three-story building. Gibson & Nowak is to the left, while the main conference room is to the right.

The entrance especially impressed Camden Town Manager Robert Mooney. “Once you walk through the front door you think you’re going back into a building built in the 1850s,” he said. Mooney appreciates the effort the couple has put in to restore the house, and feels the improvements fit in well with the rest of the historic block. “Although it’s just one block, it has the appearance of old New Castle,” he said. Mrs. Nowak found her neighbors supported the work on the house, even when they worked late nights. “We didn’t change much,” she said. “We kind of brought it back. I think people appreciate that.” The Nowaks left in many quirks from years past, including a servant bell, an old fuse box and the 12-foot high ceilings on the second floor. In a modern twist, the building now has geothermal heating and cooling to save electricity. Mr. Nowak, an engineer, compared the restoration to television shows like A&E’s “Flip This House.” “The problem with the television show is that they make it look fun,” he joked.

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ISSUE DATE 8/1/07 Copyright 2007© The Dover Post Co. All Rights Reserved.

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