As friends and neighbors help homeowners Debra and Mitch Howie clean up after a devastating fire Tuesday night in Madison County, Ryland resident Berns Miller snaps photos of the damage to their historic home built by doctor Frank Jordan in 1844. The Civil War ear mansion is a staple in the community and a place with particular significance to Miller.
“To me, this is Dr. Jordan’s house,” Miller says nostalgically. “Dr. Jordan lived here when I was born. He was a country doctor who came to my house here in Ryland and delivered me into the world.”
A few years ago, Berns Miller created a Ryland historical Facebook page which includes a Jordan House photo gallery he compiled after friend and homeowner Debra Howie gave him a tour of the property.
“She had artifacts and things, blood stains where Dr. Jordan had done his surgeries were still on the floor,” Miller explains.
Wednesday, Debra Howie sadly looks over the charred moldings, blackedned Poplar floors and smoke-tinged custom mantles she says makes this home so special.
“My husband made all the flooring to match the original flooring himself, all the molding, everything. We paid careful attention to that, it’s just something we love and this is just unbelievable,” says Howie.
As they try to salvage what they can, the howies plan to consult the Madison County Historical Society about restoration.
“They might be able to offer some advice on how to go about restoring it. I mean, we obviously want to put it back the way it was as much or as closely as we can.”
And while the Howies say they are devasted following the fire, neighbor, friend and history enthusiast Berns Miller says there is still hope.
“I’ve been inside looking around and the family seems like they’re willing to restore, so the news is not all bad.”
The Howies say they believe the blaze was started by on over-heated desktop computer in an upstairs bedroom, but no official cause has been named.