Contractor restoring 150-year-old Italianate home, plans business center
STERLING – Scott Hibbard is bringing a 150-year-old piece of Sterling’s history back to life.
Since May 2011, Hibbard, president of Northwest Homes, has been restoring the historic Italianate at 401 E. Second St., once the home of Moses M. Royer, one Sterling’s first doctors.
His plan is to create office space downstairs, and separate executive suites for overnight business stays on the second floor.
“Here we have an opportunity to build someone else’s house back, to restore it to what it was, to remind people of Moses Royer the physician and what he did for our community,” he said.
According to online genealogy records, Royer, a Pennsylvania native born in August 1828, graduated from medical school in 1855 and came to town the next year. He built the home and practiced in the area about 20 years – with a year off serving on the battlefields of the Civil War – then became wealthy and moved to Chicago, where he died in March 1896 at the age of 67.
Hibbard, 41, of Sterling, is totally restoring the stately brick home’s exterior. He has a period photo, courtesy of the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society, to use as a reference.
His goal: “Contemporary meets historic” – a cozy, comfortable interior reminiscent of a home, but with the functionality of a business facility, with wireless Internet and cable, a kitchen, a laundry facility – the same services business people could get at a hotel, but with “a higher finish,” he said.
The commercial space and reception area on the first floor will be separate from the upstairs rooms.
“Our idea is to compete with a hotel/motel,” he said. “So it would be the same price, but it would be a historic home. Who wouldn’t want to sit on a porch and a rocker?”
Before Hibbard began to make his vision a reality, he got feedback from local businesses.
“I heard a lot of people say, ‘I thought about that for years,’” he said. “Some people said, ‘No, it won’t work.’ I had one person tell me that. So we’re gonna find out who’s right.”
He hopes to have the project completed by fall.
“We didn’t have much to work with on the interior,” Hibbard said last week as he stood in the foyer. “It had been pretty mutilated over the years.”
Hibbard studied the Italian design, which gave him some ideas of how to restore the home. He also found a few original remnants behind the paneling, he said.
He has paid meticulous attention to every detail.
“I wanted people, when they walk in, to be awed,” he said. “And when they see the exterior of this house, to be inspired by it.”
The renovation was made possible in part with a Sterling Main Street facade grant. The program is designed to improve downtown commercial properties and “keep historic preservation going in the area,” Executive Director Susan Boyd said.
“Scott came to us with a proposal and we presented it to a design team, and what Scott was doing was a perfect match for what we’re looking to do,” Boyd said. “What we hope to do is restore buildings.”
Boyd is looking forward to the finished project.
“Any time we can restore a building back to its original and make it better is a bonus for the downtown,” she said. “It’s going to be remarkable when it’s done.”
Interested in the commercial space in the Royer home? Scott Hibbard, president of Northwest Homes, can be reached at email@example.com or 815-716-6150.